NBA players normally don’t discuss the league’s rampant trade speculation, more readily offering a no-comment in lieu of potentially offending their teammates. But according to Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News, Nets center Mason Plumlee — in the midst of a busy All-Star Weekend — endorsed the oft-rumored idea that Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson should join the Brooklyn Nets via trade:
“I’ve known Lance since high school,” Plumlee said during a break in practice for the Rising Stars Challenge at LIU on Thursday. “I know he’s a competitor. He plays hungry and I always respected that about him.”
Plumlee voiced a similar opinion to Netsdaily.com earlier in the day.
Brooklyn, along with Charlotte and Oklahoma City, was discussing a three-way trade last month that would have sent Stephenson to Brooklyn. The Nets would have then sent Brook Lopez to OKC while Jarrett Jack would have gone to Charlotte as part of the trade.
Lance Stephenson would be welcomed to Brooklyn with open arms by the Nets’ Mason Plumlee.
Trade talks involving Charlotte and Brooklyn restarted later last month that also involved Joe Johnson but nothing happened.
“It’s all speculation, though,” Plumlee said to reporters on Thursday at the All-Star practice. “I could go through a lot of guys in the league you would love to play with but he gets brought up because he’s a Brooklyn guy. I’m sure the city would love to have him. But he’s not helping us right now.”
“I respect him as a player,” added Plumlee.
It’s a tepid endorsement at best. Plumlee didn’t out-and-out say “bring Lance Stephenson here,” which would’ve been much clearer than “I like him as a player.” But with the trade deadline approaching, a simple no-comment or diversion is the norm, and any endorsement comes with a bit of weight — particularly from the team’s most prized asset.
In the midst of a down season following back-to-back playoff appearances, the Nets have looked to shed salary, engaging a host of teams in discussions surrounding Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez, their three most expensive players.
The Nets have engaged the Charlotte Hornets in trade talks that would send Stephenson, plus other players like Marvin Williams and Gerald Henderson, to the Nets for Johnson. They also reportedly engaged in talks surrounding Stephenson and second-year forward Cody Zeller for Lopez. But the Nets balked at the idea of adding Stephenson, who has a checkered past and has struggled in his first season in Charlotte.
The trade deadline is February 19th.