A stunningly poor start to the season, chemistry issues and Stephenson's sub-par play had led the Hornets (6-19) to explore trade possibilities for their prized offseason acquisition just a few months after signing him to a three-year, $27 million deal.
Another factor in the Hornets' decision to keep Stephenson is their growing belief that a groin injury has hindered him all season and played a significant role in his lack of production. Stephenson is expected to miss the next two games because of the groin and did not travel to Philadelphia for Friday's game against the 76ers.
Charlotte feels the injury has affected Stephenson's movement and conditioning, according to sources, and that just as he was getting healthy, he reinjured the groin Wednesday against Phoenix. The Hornets want to rest Stephenson, let him heal and see if he can either fit in with Charlotte or re-establish his trade value.
The acquisition of Stephenson was expected to help the Hornets improve on last season's solid 43-39 season. Coming off his best season, in which he averaged career-highs in points (13.8), rebounds (7.2) and assists (4.6), Stephenson was viewed by many as a potential All-Star.
But after less than two months of play in Charlotte, many league executives believe he is the reason the Hornets have floundered. Averaging just 10.2 points on 38.6 percent shooting, Stephenson has recently found himself on the bench during crunch time.
Sources say Stephenson's free-wheeling style of play and often negative body language has hurt the team chemistry that made Charlotte one of the surprises of the Eastern Conference last season.