Lance Stephenson is reportedly unhappy with Indiana’s 5-year, $44 million offer from a week ago, sources tell ESPN. After negotiations reached an impasse, Stephenson has turned towards the free agency market, which is still being held up by LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. If the Mavs and Lakers miss out on ‘Melo and ‘Bron, they have emerged as possible destinations for the Pacers’ mercurial wing.
Chris Broussard of ESPN reports that Stephenson has drawn interest from the Mavericks and the Lakers, though — according to sources — both squads have free agents prioritized above Lance. Those sources are almost surely referring to James and Anthony, who are top priorities for seemingly every team.
Stephenson is different. After his performance in the playoffs raised eyebrows not for his play, but his antics during the Eastern Conference Finals, many felt his stock would take a dip. Even before the hijinks with ‘Bron in the Conference Finals, Indiana’s offer was right in line with what many thought Lance was worth, with some feeling he could pass over into the $10 million-a-year realm (Indy’s deal equals $8.8 million a year) if he got lucky and a team wanted to splurge for a known name.
Now, a week after the offer, the two sides continue to be far apart, according to sources close to the situation.
Stephenson wants to remain in Indiana, but felt Indy gave him a full-ball offer, according to Broussard’s sources familiar with the situation.
That leaves the Mavs and Lakers — the former of which has very slight odds at ‘Melo or LeBron — lying in wait. The Lakers might be closer to landing ‘Melo than New York or Chicago after reports surfaced over the weekend his meeting in LA impressed him — even with Kobe Bryant failing to make it back in time.
Still, chances are ‘Melo re-signs in New York and LeBron in Miami or Cleveland, or go somewhere besides Dallas or LA. In which case, Stephenson might be the next in line. Then again, the Mavs might turn their attention to restricted free agent Chandler Parsons. They could drive Chandler’s price up so in-state rival Houston has to pay more. If the offer is big enough they might just steal him outright if Daryl Morey and Co. no longer feel he’s worth the asking price.
If Dallas or the LA offer $10 million a year like Sir Lance-Alot is expecting, it could either mean Indiana stretches their offer — almost impossible with their current cap situation — or they lose him entirely. In the latter case, it’ll mean he no longer gets to visit the “Bird Cave.”
Stephenson, as well as Parsons, are just two more dominoes likely to fall once ‘Melo, James, Chris Bosh, and D-Wade all sign. The question is whether he receives what he feels he deserves after those players sign, and if not, is he so insulted by Indiana’s offer he goes elsewhere for non-monetary reasons?
Is Dallas or LA a better fit for Stephenson?
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