The Indiana Pacers recently declined Lance Stephenson’s team option, making him an unrestricted free agent. When Stephenson joined the Pacers in 2016, he entered a 3-year contract with a team option. Declining the $4.3 million option indicates the team will be looking to acquire a new free agent this summer, such as Tyreke Evans or Will Barton.
The Pacers are looking to have another great offseason. Last year, they completed the trade to send Paul George to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Oladipo recently won the Most Improved Player of the Year Award for the 2017-18 season, so Indiana may have won that trade. With a successful draft night, they scooped up Jrue Holiday’s younger brother, Aaron Holiday, in the first round.
The Pacers will now maintain as much financial flexibiliy as possible entering July 1 free agency. Stephenson enters market, too. https://t.co/rOZvIjdQbH
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 25, 2018
The fan favorite averaged 9.2 points, 2.9 assists, and 5.2 rebounds in all 82 games last year but only started seven of them. That may be few games started, but his hunger on the court was consistent, which helped him make the most of his minutes. What made Stephenson an important asset to the Pacers was that he was a very physical and versatile player who highly contributed to the Pacers winning every season.
Battling in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pacers lost in seven games. Despite their early exit, Stephenson provided that spark on the court, rallying the crowd, at which he always excelled. The memorable, funny, brain-teasing moments he’s had playing against LeBron James over the years will always stand out. Every time we have watched Stephenson match up against James, we see a physical performance that fans enjoyed.
Paul George, a former teammate of Stephenson from 2010-2014 and unrestricted free agent, recently posted his frustration on Instagram with the Pacer organizations decision to decline Stephenson’s team option.
Could George and Stephenson rejoin together on a new team, having played well together and now both on the market?
Before returning to the Indiana Pacers in the 2016-17 season, Stephenson played for the Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. A possible reunion with the Clippers would be interesting to watch again. Teams such as the San Antonio Spurs and the Chicago Bulls also would be good fits because of the strong playmaking role he could provide to those organizations.
Stephenson will be available July 1st and a new NBA team will be lucky to sign him.