As has been mentioned a million times in the past few months, the Pacers have around $8 million to offer Lance Stephenson in the first year of a new deal. So it is no surprise to see reported by ESPN, that the Pacers have a 5-year, $44 million deal as their initial offer to the dynamic guard.
The Pacers' main leverage in negotiations is the ability to include a fifth year in the contract, which of course adds to the risk for the Pacers if Lance remains a wild card on and/or off the court and for whatever reason, doesn't handle the business end of a big contract as expected.
The offer is right in the wheelhouse of fairness currently, allowing the Pacers to keep the band together and still improve around the edges. That improvement may require dumping Luis Scola's salary while also utilizing the Mid-level exception with checks in over $5 million..
If the Pacers sweeten the deal for Lance, they would need to dump more salary, but then you're backfilling with more minimum salary players on a team that obviously needs a little help off the bench.
According to Chris Broussard, Lance's reps aren't sure they can reach a deal despite the interest from both sides to remain together. If not, a few glamorous suitors may be able to sway Stephenson with more money.
Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets also have interest in Stephenson.
The story goes on to say, Stephenson wants to continue playing for a contender and won't just chase the highest bidder. The three teams above qualify considering the Lakers will always be a desired destination and can rebuild quicker because of it. If nothing else, the Bulls and Hornets can drive up the price and try to push the Pacers to spend more of their cap on Stephenson, in essence forcing them to at best stay level or at worst, take a step back with a weaker supporting cast.
All along with regard to Lance, Larry Bird has stated he has a number and the team is unlikely to waver from said number. We should soon find out if $44 is the number or not.
We're just starting day two of the Lance watch, so stay tuned for denials and more rumors of interest and big offers.
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