Lance Stephenson was a big part of the Indiana Pacers’ success during the 2017-18 NBA season. It was a year that the Pacers surprised the entire NBA after trading star player Paul George during the offseason. Unfortunately for Pacers’ fans, Stephenson chose to leave the Pacers this offseason to play alongside LeBron James with the Los Angeles Lakers.
During the introductory press conference for Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott, Pacers’ general manager Kevin Pritchard made some comments about Stephenson that many view as controversial.
According to a report shared by Bleacher Report, Pritchard made some honest comments to the media on Friday.
“Sometimes he was the best player on our team, and sometimes he was the best player on the other team. We love Lance and we wish him the best.”
Pritchard also shared with the media that the Pacers made a better free agency offer to Stephenson than the one that he ended up signing with the Lakers. He did acknowledge that James calling Stephenson and asking him to come to L.A. was an understandable reason for Stephenson to turn the Pacers down.
Following Pritchard’s comments going viral, Stephenson took to his Instagram account to respond to them. He has since deleted his post, but not before plenty of screenshots were taken of it.
To say that Stephenson sounded upset about the comments would be an understatement. He obviously felt disrespected and hurt that Pritchard would say something along the lines of what he did.
Indiana chose to decline Stephenson’s one-year, $4.5 million player option at the start of the offseason. At the time, Pritchard stated that the decision was a hard one for the team to make, but that the franchise wanted as much cap space as they could create. Signing Evans and McDermott has been viewed as a major upgrade for the Pacers.
Last season with the Pacers, Stephenson ended up averaging 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He shot 42.7 percent from the field overall and knocked down 28.9 percent of his three-point attempts.
No other comments have been made by Pritchard since the ones he made during the press conference. Many fans in Indiana are upset with Pritchard for the comments, although others agree with them.
Paul George also took to his Instagram account to share his displeasure with his former team for declining Stephenson’s option. He has time and time again ripped the Pacers’ front office for decisions made during his tenure with the team.
All of that being said, Stephenson’s first game against the Pacers in 2018-19 will be fun to watch. After seeing these comments, he will undoubtedly have a chip on his shoulder to prove Pritchard wrong.