Stephenson says James ‘was very interested in me’

After years of battling, LeBron James and Lance Stephenson are now teammates.

LeBron James didn’t personally call Lance Stephenson during the free agency period, but did tell Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson he was very interested in having Stephenson as a teammate.

Stephenson has a long history of getting under the skin of James, dating back to when James was with the Miami Heat. Every time James and Stephenson have faced off, the two always seem to get into some type of minor tussle, with Stephenson always being the instigator.

That’s why many were surprised when the Lakers signed Stephenson shortly after James announced he was leaving Cleveland for Los Angeles. Stephenson’s agent called James’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, to make sure James was on board with Stephenson signing with the Lakers, according to a report from the LA Times.

“Magic called me and he told me LeBron was interested, very interested in me,” Stephenson told Dana Benbow of IndyStar.com. “I decided to go there and, hopefully, we will win a lot of games and have fun.”

Stephenson signed a one-year deal with the Lakers. He will make $4.5 million in 2018-19. In 82 games this past season with the Indiana Pacers, Stephenson averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists, shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 28.9 percent from three.

The 27-year-old expects James to ask him to use his tactics on the Lakers’ opponents all season.

“Yeah, he’s probably going to stick me on people,” Stephenson said. “It’ll be fun. It will be a very interesting year, just playing with him and winning games with him.”