Lance Stephenson and the Indiana Pacers not only lost the speedy-quick Internet news cycles on Monday, they were shut out, 10-run ruled, skunked or however you want to characterize a route.
I couldn't help think of the radio interview by Pacers Sports & Entertainment president, Jim Morris last year when he said (and I'm paraphrasing), "We will not have bums anymore." Now you'd have to ask Mr. Morris how he defines bums, but I imagine the type of behavior attributed to Lance Stephenson would fit within that definition and if the team stays true to their words and the culture they are trying to promote, they will cut their losses with Stephenson as soon as possible.
I can't believe no one representing Lance Stephenson made a statement about his arrest until after the gory details from the court papers surfaced. Those reports allege that Stephenson pushed his girlfriend, Jasmine Williams down the stairs and instead of reacting by thinking, "Oh, S#&%! What am I doing?", Stephenson went down the stairs and then banged the woman's head on the bottom step. That raises an already horrific story to new heights on the malicious attack scale.
By the time Stephenson's lawyer released a statement full of legalese intended to begin adding his side of the story to the narrative, the damage was done. There were witnesses and the nasty details would be hard to make up. Unless a surveillance video surfaces showing a banana peel at the top of the stairs, any story Stephenson's side tells won't explain away Williams tumbling down the stairs.
Meanwhile the Pacers were quiet much of the day as well until Larry Bird released a statement that appears to set the stage dealing with Stephenson in an abrupt manner. Letting this story fester without statement actually heps the Pacers if their intent it to part ways with the rookie guard. If you're selling a changed culture and a new face blatantly goes against everything you say you stand for, then the decision to move on without him is easy.
What the team should be doing is finding an out in the two-year contract Stephenson recently signed which is reportedly guaranteed for around $1.5 million. Were there any conditions tied to that guarantee? Everyone knew the risk with Stephenson, so it seems to make sense that they may have included some behavioral clause in the deal that would void the guaranteed money. Regardless of how high the threshold for poor behavior would have to be to trigger such a clause, the alleged assault on Sunday would certainly crash through it.
Yes, it is only $1.5 million over two years and an outright cut would do minimal damage to the Pacers' salary structure, but on principle, guaranteeing any money to Stephenson without strings attached is gross negligence.
Normally I'm a hope-for-the-best-let-things-play-out type of person with regard to these dicey off-court situations. But the actions alleged from a player who has no idea how to handle having a world of oppurtunties in the palm of his hand, make it simply not worth the effort for the Pacers to hope for the best and try to make it work. Cut your losses and let him rehab his life and career on another team's time and dime.