According to ESPN, Lance Stephenson has accepted an offer to play with the Charlotte Hornets. The deal is reportedly worth $27 million over the next three seasons.
The Pacers had offered Stephenson a five year deal that was worth $44 million. Apparently that deal wasn’t enough for his perceived worth.
The Pacers apparently refused to offer him a shorter deal. Some players have taken a two year deal because the new television will be negotiated in 2016.
The deal with the Hornets will pay Stephenson about $9 million per season, slightly more than the Pacers $8.8.
Stephenson led the NBA in triple-doubles last season. He averaged 13.8 points per game while shooting 49-percent from the field. He also had 7.2 rebounds per game and led the team with 4.6 assists.
Pacers owner Herb Simon seemed annoyed at the situation following the owners meeting in Las Vegas.
“We made him a wonderful offer and they didn’t think it was enough,” Simon said. “So it’s a simple situation.”
Stephenson was the lone player who appeared to play with effort every night. Despite the potential to be volatile, Stephenson has a tremendous amount of potential. He has made huge strides since his rookie season and should be an All-Star next season.
Mid-season issues doomed the Pacers last season and one of the prevailing thoughts was that it had to do with Stephenson. Roy Hibbert appeared to call him out in one interview as well. Despite issues within the locker room, Hibbert tweeted out his support early Wednesday morning:
@StephensonLance Damn bro gonna miss having you around. One of the funniest teammates I’ve ever had. Dinner on you when we come to Char!
— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) July 16, 2014
The Pacers are now left without a play creator on the roster. George Hill isn’t a true point guard and the offense could grind to a halt even with Stephenson on the court last season.
Reports have indicated that the Pacers have been looking at trade options, but nothing has come from it.
Larry Bird‘s goal when the season ended was to keep the core group together. Now Bird will have to figure out a plan B to keep this team competitive in a very tough Central Division.