Philadelphia 76ers: Come for Lance Stephenson, stay for the food

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Almost three years ago to the day, multi-hyphenate Eddie Huang made an appearance on the Bill Simmons Podcast to talk about three things: Luka Doncic’s mom, NBA Summer League, and Lance Stephenson.

*sigh* for the sake of this conversation, let’s focus on the latter two.

Chatting with The Ringer founder for roughly 50 minutes, Huang broke down why the Summer League is the best way to watch the next generation of basketball, especially if you’re a New York Knicks fan, how good food brings people together, and his desire to open up a restaurant called “Lance Stephenson’s,” where they’d sell mumbo sauce Chinese wings potentially in the back of secret Tiki Bar.

Why, you may ask, am I summarizing a podcast from 2018? Well, because the Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly set to attend Lance Stephenson’s private workout in Las Vegas, between appearances by their Summer League team. Considering the current state of the team’s roster, I think they’d be better suited to hold out for “Lance Stephenson’s” the restaurant, or at least roll over to Roy Choi’s Best Friend at the Park MGM and grab a solid bite before the next game.

Lance Stephenson? On the Philadelphia 76ers? Why?

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As things presently stand, the Philadelphia 76ers have 17 players under contract; 15 on the active roster and two on two-way contracts.

That’s good.

While some teams are still filling out their roster with Summer League standouts and two-way contract stragglers, having a complete roster in the second week of August certainly isn’t a bad problem to have… until you remember that the Sixers still haven’t signed Charles Bassey to a contract and have an $8.2 million trade exception that expires on September 7th.

Now, to be fair, this isn’t a particularly tricky situation to solve. If the Sixers want to get Bassey some run before the Summer League is done, all they have to do is waive Anthony Tolliver‘s non-guaranteed contract and lock up the former Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on a multi-year rookie contract.

See what I mean? Easy, right? Just waive Tolliver, and things are golden… unless the Sixers actually pull off a massive trade centered around Ben Simmons and need Tolliver’s $2.69 million to help facilitate a potential deal.

With George Hill now a member of the Milwaukee Bucks instead of a $10-plus million trade chip on the Sixers books, Philly only has so many options to make a massive swing with serious financial implications. Excluding the starting five, the Sixers don’t have a single player who makes more than $5 million per season, and thus, they’d need to combined multiple contracts together just to get, say, $10 million together for a trade, let alone taking back a deal from, say, the Kings or Warriors featuring multiple players on second-contracts.

Does signing Lance Stephenson solve that problem? Does bringing him into camp resolve the Sixers’ roster issues or help them to swing a massive trade? Heck, would Stephenson, even in all of his goofy, eight teams in five seasons plus a stint on the Liaoning Flying Leopards glory, actually make the Sixers better if he just made the team?

What would he be, the Sixers’ 12th guy in front of a bunch of players who can barely drink alcohol? Even if Stephenson lit it up in the CBA last season to the tune of 26.7 points in 34.8 minutes of action a night, he’s still a 31.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc on 1,099 career attempts, and he doesn’t quite make up for that on the defensive end of the court.

Really, if the Sixers want to add another vet to their roster, their time would be better spent tuning into a Portland Trail Blazers game, as they have Michael Beasley, Kenneth Faried, and Emmanuel Mudiay all competing against the first and second-year players vying for contracts across the Summer League.

Of that lot, I’ve always had a soft spot for Mudiay, even if he’d be a poor fit on this current iteration of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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So should the Philadelphia 76ers attend Lance Stephenson’s workout? Sure, why the heck not? The team already has representation in Las Vegas; why not make an appearance and watch the 30-year-old put up a few shots? But between you and me, I wouldn’t try to turn it into an all-day thing. Instead, the team should be checking showtimes, scoping out dinner reservations, and trying to figure out how to get 16 players onto a 15 man roster with an $8.2 million trade exception set to expire at the end of the month. And as for “Lance Stephenson’s,” the restaurant, not the man? Well, as of right now, there is no new news on the restaurant, but much like the basketball player’s career, the door always seems to be open for further negotiations.