Lance Stephenson is going to Charlotte, choosing a three year deal over a five year deal with the terms reported to be close in dollar amount.
According the the Charlotte Observer, Stephenson met with Hornets‘ representatives in Las Vegas well into the wee hours of the morning to work out the deal. Stephenson, who is only 23 years old, is poised to make $9 million this season and $9 million next season, with incentives tacked onto the third year, 2016-17, if the team picks up the option. Indiana was offering a five year, $44 million dollar contract, which would have paid the fourth year point guard $8.8 million over the course of the five years.
As a Pacer, Lance Stephenson found his groove under the tutelage of team president, Larry Bird, who reportedly saw something in the kid from the University of Cincinnati. Bird drafted Stephenson in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft with the 40th pick, and got to work shaping the kid into a man. Last season, Bird’s work paid off as Stephenson put up 13.5 points per game, along with 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He shot 49.1 percent from the field and also led the league in triple-doubles with five.
In addition to Stephenson’s considerable basketball skills, behavioral issues and a history of fighting and violence–both while at Cincinnati and as a Pacer, which culminated last season when Stephenson and Evan Turner got into a fistfight at a Pacers practice on the eve of the NBA playoffs–has dogged the shooting guard throughout his career. Stephenson even went on to accelerate his antics on the national stage during the Eastern Conference Finals, when Stephenson goaded and harassed Lebron James, including public challenges to James’ play, and the now infamous ear-blowing incident.
Lance Stephenson will now work under another all-time NBA great in Michael Jordan, who is part owner of the recently re-dubbed Hornets. Stephenson, a New York City prodigy, returns to the east coast, replacing Josh McRoberts, who bolted the Hornets for the Miami Heat last week. Curiously, this is the second time that Stephenson has replaced McRoberts, as both once played for the Pacers, and it was McRoberts departure that opened up a role for Stephenson in the Pacers back court.
The loss of Lance Stephenson undoubtedly hurts the Pacers, but it does free up salary for Larry Bird to go out and find a new replacement, one less likely to use his fists, and his breath, as part of his game.
[Image Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com]