Report: Pacers Players Could Be Against Lance Stephenson’s Return

Lance Stephenson (Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports)


We’ve written quite a few pieces about the headache Lance Stephenson has become for the Charlotte Hornets. Right now, the three-year, $27 million deal he signed this past offseason has to be in the running for the worst new contract of the summer. But with the team looking to move him — after clashes with teammates and less-than-stellar performances on the court — before the Feb. deadline, his old team has come up as a possible destination. Except, how do his former teammates feel about his return? Some seem against it, while others are less so, with a majority of them probably falling somewhere in between.

First, Pacers owner Herb Simon would welcome Born Ready back into the fold, but he’s leaving it to president of basketball operations, Larry Bird. What about the players, specifically after Stephenson was rumored to be the culprit behind Roy Hibbert‘s selfish comments last season.

ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting the Pacers aren’t too keen on Stephenson’s return:



But that’s not the only report which paints a Pacers locker room with no desire to see the Brooklyn-breed guard’s return:

You could read between the lines of this quote from coach Frank Vogel when he mentioned “team togetherness” after getting asked about Lance’s return. By way of ESPN reporter and Pacers PA announcer, Michael Grady:


There’s more from Grady, which one could speculate was a further rejection of a Lance return, this time by George Hill:



Then again, Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports was provided an altogether different reaction from the Pacers he spoke with:

Monday, I talked with a handful of players who were on the team last year. None of them objected, and they were interested in the validity of the report.

The basketball side of the organization has great leadership, from owner Herb Simon to Bird, Vogel, and down to the players. They could make it work. Players agreed that too much was made of Hibbert not getting along with Stephenson.

The players, too, know Stephenson’s personality and his act, if you will. Realistically, he’s probably not understood in the Hornets locker room. Meanwhile, the Pacers get him.


Obviously, the concern is how the players would feel. One player did not think it would be a big deal. He called Lance “one of the funniest teammates I’ve ever had,” then joked that his rebounding numbers would surely dip. Stephenson, who was always well-aware of his stat line, had built a reputation for stealing rebounds.

It’s basically impossible to peg an entire team of personalities into one unified voice when it comes to a polarizing teammate like Stephenson. Plus, with Lance possibly returning, it’s doubtful any of his former teammates are liable to castigate him publicly. If they really took umbrage with the thought of his return, perhaps they’ve privately reached out to Bird or Vogel to voice those concerns.

If we’re fair, it’s probably a mix of players who love his sense of humor and hope he comes back, to those who found him grating and a distraction in the locker room. The majority probably don’t care one way or another — just so long as he helps them win if he does return.

(H/T 8points9seconds)

Do the majority of Pacers want him back, or want him to stay gone?

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