Could the Knicks bring Lance Stephenson back to the NBA?

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York Knicks are exploring options for a seasoned player, they may consider bringing Lance Stephenson back to the NBA. Stephenson, a Brooklyn native, is currently showing his skills on the basketball courts of Puerto Rico, following his time with the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers during the 2021–22 season.

During this stint, he managed averages of 8.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game, with a .455 field goal percentage and .300 three-point percentage.

While Stephenson’s performance has diminished since his peak seasons, he remains open to a New York return and could contest for a spot on the Knicks’ roster.

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Stephenson’s Aspirations for an NBA Comeback

In a recent podcast with the New York Post, Stephenson voiced his ambition to make an NBA comeback, which he acknowledged is a far cry from streetball due to the organizational demands. “I definitely miss the NBA now that I am playing in Puerto Rico. I did not want to leave. So my goal right now is to get back in there and show them that I am born ready,” he confided to The Post.

Now at 32, Stephenson is unquestionably still physically competent to compete in the NBA. With experience playing as a shooting guard, small forward, and point guard, his adaptable skill set could prove to be attractive. Being a Brooklyn native, it is understandable that he yearns to return to his hometown, where he can be near his family and make a significant contribution to the city’s basketball scene.

Stephenson’s Preference for a New York Team

“I think it is time for a New York team. I want to play for the [Brooklyn] Nets or the Knicks, either one would do,” Stephenson stated. He has previously had some impressive performances against the Knicks while with the Pacers. During the 2013–14 season, he recorded career highs of 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and shot .491 from the field and .352 from the three-point line.

How Would Stephenson Fit into the Knicks’ Current Plans?

Although Stephenson certainly has the potential to be a reliable rotation option, the Knicks already have a surplus of guards and are seeking more robust forwards to support Julius Randle. “I feel like I did enough for people to remember me and know me as one of the top players that played in New York,” Stephenson stated, adding, “I feel like I am just New York.”

The concept of Stephenson making a return to the NBA is indeed appealing. However, the Knicks have other priorities, with their sights set on recruiting a third star to complement Randle and Jalen Brunson. Thus, it seems unlikely they would opt to bring back an aging veteran who is currently competing in Puerto Rico.