Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson is expected to make his debut on Sunday when the Indiana Pacers (37-38) travel to Cleveland, Ohio to take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (47-26). The news was made official by the Indiana Pacers’ official Twitter account.
Lance Stephenson will join the #Pacers for Sunday's game at the Cavaliers and will wear the number 6️⃣ this season.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) March 30, 2017
It is doubtful that Stephenson will be the Pacers’ starting shooting guard — as he was during his final moments with the Pacers in 2013-14. But by signing him, the team gets a reliable wing defender and a player that will provide a very depleted bench unit with some needed firepower.
While a vast majority of fans like the reuniting of Stephenson to the team that helped lift off his career, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding whether or not he can still play at the same caliber that he did nearly three years ago. Since signing with the Charlotte Hornets as a free-agent during the 2014 offseason, Stephenson’s play became wildly inconsistent, resulting in him playing for five different teams since last suiting up for the Pacers.
Their is reason to be optimistic for another successful stint in Indiana, however. Not only is Stephenson returning to play with a familiar face in Paul George, but he is also very familiar with assistant coach Dan Burke’s defensive system. If none of these reasons are not enough to feel good about the signing of Stephenson, just look at his contract compared to some other deals that teams have been handing out to players since the NBA’s salary cap jumped up to $94-million for the 2016-17 season.
Making $4-million per year, here’s some insight into how much of a bargain that Stephenson’s contract may be in terms of base salary for 2016, via Spotrac.
- Lance Stephenson: $4-million (estimated)
- Bismack Biyombo: $17-million
- Timofey Mozgov: $16-million
- Solomon Hill: $11.2-million
- Matthew Dellavedova: $9.6-million
According to the statistics this season, all of the players listed above are either average-talent players, or slightly above-average regarding what they provide to their respective teams. Some may dislike the Stephenson signing, but can look at the deal as a low-risk, high-reward singing. If the 26-year-old can’t return to his old form, then the team moves on with little financial harm. If he does work out in Indiana, the deal can be deemed as a major bargain.
George appears to be happy to see his former teammate returning to the roster.
The Pacers’ next game will come in an away bout against the Toronto Raptors (45-30) Friday night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.