As had been reported throughout the night, the Charlotte Hornets had begun to look much closer at the prospect of signing Lance Stephenson. The news broke early this morning that the two sides had reached an agreement, sending Stephenson to Charlotte to play for the newly minted Hornets.
The Charlotte Hornets will sign Lance Stephenson to a 3-year contract, the last season a team option, the Observer has learned.
The Charlotte Hornets will sign Lance Stephenson to a 3-year contract, the last season a team option, the Observer has learned.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) July 16, 2014
The possibility of Stephenson leaving loomed after he seemed disinterested in the Indiana Pacers offering him a five year, $44 million contract, making the final terms of the deal rather curious, according to Chris Broussard:
Sources: Lance Stephenson accepts 3 yr, $27 million deal with Charlotte
Sources: Lance Stephenson accepts 3 yr, $27 million deal with Charlotte— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 16, 2014
The Hornets will have a team option for the third season, giving them plenty of flexibility for Stephenson moving forward, who will look to expedite his future paydays after the perception of his value being stunted following last season's postseason run appeared to hold true.
On the other side of the coin, that's that.
Lance Stephenson is gone.
The Pacers will be left to mull on their options when it comes to replacing Stephenson's contributions on the floor, but most curiously is why the Pacers weren't players at Charlotte's 3 year, $27 million. Larry Bird stated he wasn't going to waver from his original 5 year, $44 million contract, but a deal monetarily similar, on shorter terms, it seemed like a no brainer decision, assuming Stephenson allowed the Pacers the chance to match terms.
Without Stephenson and without any available cap room, the Pacers will be left with hefty decisions in regards to their team. I've believed the loss of Stephenson wasn't going to be a do or die roster move, but at those terms, it becomes a lot harder to swallow and while Stephenson may not be the difference between the Pacers chances at contending, they will be left with a less talented roster than the team that reached two straight Eastern Conference Finals.
Considering the high likelihood of losing Lance, it's no question Bird has planned for this, but whether it includes bigger roles for George Hill and starting C.J. Miles or C.J. Watson or whether there are more roster moves on the horizon, the Pacers may continue to be players in the NBA offseason. As a eulogy for Lance, his last two years were very exciting for Pacers fans, and it will be less than exciting losing a young, energetic player such as Stephenson from a roster that could certainly stand to have more playmakers.