Not Lance Stephenson.
Lets start there, shall we? If the Charlotte Hornets dont get Gordon Hayward and it looks like they wont they dont need to blow in the ear of Stephenson and whisper sweet nothings to get him to Charlotte.
Charlotte has a lot of money to spend, and throwing as much as humanly possible at Hayward is a good gamble. Hayward isnt going to tug on LeBron James cape, as Stephenson has done repeatedly (flashing the choke sign after a missed LBJ free throw, blowing in James ear during the playoffs, calling James trash talk a sign of weakness, and on and on and on).
Hayward isnt going to irritate his teammates and flop at the slightest provocation. Hes not going to lead the league in triple doubles, either Stephenson did this season but hes the more consistent player and certainly the better bet.
Ride with Hayward and you have a fast car with seat belts and air bags. Ride with Stephenson and you have an occasionally faster car, but also one with no safety devices, as well as a car missing both its headlights with brakes that work only occasionally.
The Indiana Pacers have put up with all that because Stephenson can also be a very good player and because Larry Bird has decided to put up with it, and Larry Bird is a god in Indiana. But I dont think Stephenson is the right fit in Charlotte.
I was talking with a former longtime NBA player Thursday with direct knowledge of the Hornets current locker room, which he called clean at the moment. He said it only takes one guy to change that dynamic though especially if its a guy whos a starter and has a powerful personality.
And that, my friends, is reason enough not to get into the Stephenson scrum.
As for Hayward: Despite that gaudy $63 million, four-year offer sheet, it sounds doubtful the Hornets are going to get him.
Thats because Utah, by all indications, plans to match the offer. Even when the price is ridiculously high, you almost have to match it if you are Utah because whats the point otherwise? Youve got a very fat wallet but you just lost your best player the 24-year-old who averaged 16 points, five rebounds and five assists just last season?
So even though Utah hasnt said so yet officially, thats likely going to happen. I talked to three longtime NBA men Thursday about what they would do if they were the Jazz front office.
All three of them would like Hayward to come to Charlotte for various reasons. All three of them said its probably never going to happen.
Thats a shame, because Hayward would make all sorts of sense for Charlotte. Without him, the team may be reduced to trying to fill its versatile wing scorer role via the trade market. But that certainly is worth exploring. The Hornets have a lot of assets future first-round picks, a stable of young players and could leverage them in a number of ways.
And theres also that thing your mother told you that money doesnt have to burn a hole in your pocket. It doesnt have to be spent right now at this very second. Once LeBron James decides where hes going (I keep thinking its back to Miami) and then Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh sign their mega-deals, the rest of the free-agent dominoes can start falling into place.
The Hornets have got to do something to replace Josh McRoberts, to sign a veteran point guard to back up Kemba Walker and to figure out how to get some more outside shooting. There are a lot of options out there.
Lance Stephenson should not be one of them.
Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @scott_fowler