Lance Stephenson’s very brief Pelicans career is likely over. Over the weekend, Stephenson—who signed with the Pelicans in the offseason and was averaging 9.7 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds for the team so far this season—found out that he’s going to need to undergo surgery to repair a groin injury. As a result, he will be forced to sit out for at least a few weeks to let his groin heal. And because of the injury, the Pelicans have reportedly decided to cut ties with Stephenson so that they can sign former Suns guard Archie Goodwin to take his place.
According to reports, the Pelicans didn’t really want to release Stephenson. But because of injuries to two of their other guards Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter—as well as the absence of Jrue Holiday, who has decided to sit out to be with his wife Lauren who was diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant with the couple’s child earlier this year—New Orleans didn’t have much of a choice. They need help in their backcourt, and they’re hoping Goodwin can provide it for them.
Stephenson hasn’t responded to the news about the Pelicans releasing him just yet, but his good friend Matt Barnes chimed in early Monday morning to let everyone know that he’s not happy about it. He said that this is just one more example of an NBA team showing a lack of loyalty to a player, and he reminded NBA fans that they should keep these kinds of situations in mind when they see players leave teams in free agency. Here is what Barnes posted on Instagram:
Barnes raises some interesting points, but it’s hard to be too critical of the Pelicans here. They’re 0-6 through the first two weeks of the season, and the injury bug has clearly bitten them hard. So they had to make a move, and unfortunately, that left Stephenson without a place on the team at the moment. It could ultimately help Stephenson out in the end, though, assuming he's able to recover from his injury and get back on the court with a different/better team.