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Lance Stephenson, a longtime irritant of LeBron James, now finds himself a teammate with him as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The former Indiana Pacer, who played well against James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a first-round playoff series that went to a Game 7 last season, admits James has never spoken to him on the court and hasn’t since he decided to join James in LA.
“Not since I signed, no,” Stephenson told Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports, saying he doesn’t even have James’ phone number.
“No we never talked,” he said about their matchups. “It’s going to be crazy to actually be on his team and play with him. It’s going to be a great experience.
“And to learn from him, learn how he prepares for games.”
Stephenson averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists while playing all 82 games (7 starts) for the Pacers last season, shooting 42.7 percent from the field, 28.9 percent from deep and 66.1 percent from the free-throw line.
In the playoffs against the Cavaliers, he averaged 10.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists, shooting 46.2 percent from the field, 30.8 percent from deep and 55.6 percent from the line in 21.3 minutes in seven games.
The 6-foot-5, 23-pounder out of the University of Cincinnati said he has not reached out for former Pacers teammate George Hill, who played with James last season in Cleveland after being acquired Feb. 8.
“No. I try not to ask people about him,” he said. “I rather go in here with a fresh attitude and not asking other people what is it like or anything like that. I want to get my opinion and my own feel for it. I’m coming into it with a fresh mind.”
The 27-year-old eight-year NBA veteran is staying away from expectations heading into next season.
“No expectations,” he said. “I don’t want to get a rumor from somebody, ‘Oh he’s not a good teammate’ and all that. I just want to go in there and get my own perspective.”
Stephenson has played for five teams in his career — the Pacers (twice), the Hornets, the Grizzlies, the Pelicans and the Timberwolves — a trend he’d like to end. His deal with the Lakers is for one season and $4.5 million.
“Oh yeah, I’m definitely looking for a long-term contract after this,” he said. “I’m trying to find a home. I’ve been moving a lot and to different teams.
“I’m trying to find a place where I can actually call home and feel comfortable, and actually get a nice place and stay there for a while.”