Pacers president Larry Bird spoke to Bob Kravitz about the team losing free agent Lance Stephenson, expressing his disappointment that Lance left for a few more bucks in the short term when his long-term options remained strong with the Pacers if, as Lance and his agent described it, he hit it big after betting on himself.
The Pacers didn't publically waver from their five-year, $44 million offer. Stephenson eventually signed with Charlotte for three-years, $27 million with a team option for the third year.
The big revelation Kravtiz reports is that the Pacers were willing to offer a short-term contract to allow Stephenson to return to free agency for more cash if all went well. Bird also indicated they were willing to grin-and-bear their way through adding an early player option in the middle of their original five-year offer.
Bird feels Stephenson has the game to earn that bigger pay day down the road and the Pacers' future cap situation would've put them in place to take care of him. At least that is what Bird is saying now. They will still have the room to go after him after his deal is up in Charlotte, so we'll have to wait to see how genuine the disappointment Bird expresses here, really is.
"I really feel bad about losing him,'' Bird said. "I hope it doesn't interfere with our relationship. But I did what I could possibly do to keep him here. Even if he didn't have any other offers, I was committed to giving him that $44 million because I believe in the kid. If you look at our roster, we have five or six guys in the last year of their deals, plus David (West) and Roy (Hibbert) can opt out, so don't you think I wanted to keep Lance and Paul (George) locked into long-term deals?''
Check out the links:
Kravitz: Larry Bird can't understand why Lance Stephenson bolted
NBA free agency winners and losers: Houston's problem - USA Today
Hornets and Lance Stephenson eager to bring talent and experience to fresh start in Charlotte - At The Hive
PG Goes Off at Basketball Camp | Indiana Pacers
Lance Stephenson, Hornets: Was Charlotte right to sign the NBA’s most fascinatingly flawed player?
NBA rumors roundup: Cavaliers plan to sign Andrew Wiggins this week, Knicks eyeing trades - SBNation.com
Knicks will look at Carmelo Anthony's friend, free agent Dahntay Jones - NY Daily News
Connection to Phil could lead Bynum to Knicks after year off | New York Post
Free-agent roundup: Jimmer gets another shot, Mavs ink Summer League star, backup point guards ahoy | Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo Sports
Kobe Bryant is why the Lakers will have another bad season - SBNation.com