Lance Stephenson was not expected to leave the Indiana Pacers this offseason, but after seeing his option declined by the franchise, he may not have a choice. The entire state of Indiana was stunned on Monday when news broke that the team would decline Stephenson’s $4.3 million team option. Stephenson was a huge part of the Pacers’ success in 2017-18, but may not view him as a long-term piece of the core.
Now, free agency is looming for Stephenson once again. He could return to the Pacers on a smaller contract, but will likely search around to see what offers are thrown his way.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic took to Twitter to mention that the Golden State Warriors could be an ideal fit for Stephenson this offseason. Golden State is looking for an athletic wing that is capable of playmaking and knocking down big shots. Those are areas that Stephenson thrives.
Golden State is coming off of their third NBA Finals win in four years and adding Stephenson would be yet another big depth pickup for them. Having a stellar bench behind Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green has been key for the Warriors. Signing with Golden State would also give Stephenson the chance to seriously compete for a title.
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) June 25, 2018
During the 2017-18 season with the Pacers, Stephenson ended up averaging 9.2 points per game to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He shot 42.7 percent from the floor overall and knocked down 28.9 percent of his three-point attempts. Those numbers show why the Pacers had to make the decision to move on from Stephenson, despite the fact that the franchise and fans love him.
In the playoffs, Stephenson played a key role for the Pacers as they pushed LeBron James and the Cavaliers to the brink of elimination. He played well offensively and pestered James as he usually does.
At just 27-years-old, Stephenson would be well worth the risk for the Warriors. He may display some antics on the court, but there is no denying the kind of impact he is capable of making. Stephenson will bring energy off the bench each and every game and is capable of setting up teammates and creating his own shot.
The only downfall with Stephenson is that he needs the basketball in his hands to be effective. Perhaps Steve Kerr could utilize Stephenson as his primary playmaker with the second unit.
All of that being said, Stephenson will be an intriguing name to keep an eye on this offseason. He isn’t going to receive major interest right off the bat in free agency, but he is a “Plan B or C” kind of option for contenders looking to add a bit more punch to their bench.