After reports that the Indiana Pacers had rolled out a charm offensive for unrestricted free agent guard Lance Stephenson, it’s being reported that the team put together a five-year, $44 million offer that fell short of the Brooklyn native’s expectations. With the squad’s four other starters under contract from a team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, Indiana has between $8-12 million to offer to for all new contracts this summer. It’s widely accepted that Stephenson could command around $10 million per year on the open market but because the Pacers retain his Larry Bird rights, the home team can sign him to a five-year deal where other suitors can only offer four.
Fittingly, Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird has been Stephenson’s biggest supporter during his four seasons with the club. Before the opening of the free agent market, Bird admitted that the Pacers—who have previously stated their intention to remain under the cap—have a dollar figure in mind for Stephenson and won’t exceed it. While Stephenson put together the best season of his career (13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists) and narrowly missed out on an All-Star berth, there were numerous reports that his personality and ball-hogging rubbed teammates the wrong way.
According to ESPN, the guard has also drawn interest from the Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls. Those teams have reached out to Stephenson’s agent, Alberto Ebanks, a criminal defense attorney who most notably defended Fabolous (and was depicted in Loso’s Way.)