Lance Stephenson on His Upcoming Free Agency: "I'm Staying With the Pacers"


The Pacers have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, and David West is the only member of that cast who is susceptible to age-related decline. This means that this current Eastern Conference juggernaut should remain that way for the foreseeable future. Such an outcome will be even more certain if Indiana can retain the improving-by-the-day Lance Stephenson.

Of course, last year was the first season in which Stephenson got any meaningful run, so he still needs to prove (to some … not so much Larry Bird … or me) that he can consistently contribute and fit in with all the team concepts on both ends of the floor. But with each passing day, he is looking more and more like a player that any championship contender would love to have in its starting lineup.

The problem is that Stephenson becomes a free agent after this season.

I won’t dig into all the nuances of the financial challenges the Pacers face in trying to remain below the luxury tax line, but know that there isn’t a ton of extra cash lying around the front office. If Stephenson truly breaks out this season, there has always been the possibility that he will just play his way out of Indiana’s price range. (We’ll explore the detailed finances shortly.)

But according to Stephenson, this won’t matter. He’s coming back regardless.

In a recent article, Mark Montieth of included the following comments from Stephenson, who was reacting to questions about his future with the franchise.

“I don’t think about that,” Stephenson said after matching his regular season career high with 22 points while hitting a career-high five three-pointers in seven attempts. “It’s a long season, I’m not thinking nothing about contracts. I’m going to stay with the Pacers, so I’m not even thinking about the contract.”

Montieth wanted to ensure Lance’s sentiments were being captured correctly.

Going to stay? Does that mean he would turn down a larger offer to re-sign?

“I’m staying with the Pacers,” he said.

There you have it. Lance will be back.

Of course, that’s just one off-the-cuff comment from a 23-year-old. Athletes say a lot of things, and I’m sure agents and financial futures and countless other factors will be involved next summer more than they were while a player was simply reacting to what is inherently an emotionally charged question.

It sounds as though Stephenson really likes his career in Indiana — and we know he loves his mentor Larry Bird — and his heart is here. But we all know that this sport is a business and that next summer is very far away.

Tags: News Players Say The Darndest Things

  • The Stretch Four

    Isn’t Lance, being a 2nd round draft pick, a RFA this summer and eligible for the same “poison pill” offer sheets that the Rockets used to land Lin and Asik? If so, one of those offer sheets would crush the Pacers chances of re-signing Lance. Of course, if Lance and the Pacers have a mutual love for each other (sounds like they do), they could circumvent that by instructing him not to sign such an offer sheet and just offer him the same overall money, avoiding the big 1 year hit that the poison pill sheets would carry.

    • Josh Baker

      To my knowledge, Lance will be an unrestricted free agent.

      • Derek U

        uhhh, considering it’s his first contract, he’ll be a restricted free agent unless the Pacers give up the rights, which they haven’t, or wont. So he is a RFA.

        • Josh Baker

          You’re actually wrong, Derek. Read the link Jamie posted.

          • Derek U

            I down for being wrong, but I can’t figure out why? I’ve seriously been trying to find anything on the internet and can’t. Is it because he was a second round pick on a 4 year non-guaranteed contract?

          • Derek U

            “For first-round draft picks, restricted free agency is only allowed after a team exercises its option for a fourth year, and the team makes a Qualifying Offer at the Rookie-scale amount after the fourth year is completed. For any other player to be a restricted free agent, he must be at most a three-year NBA veteran, and his team must have made a Qualifying Offer for either 125% of his previous season’s salary or the minimum salary plus $200,000, whichever offer is higher”

            The more you know………..

      • Jamie Rehmel

        Lance will be an Unrestricted Free Agent:

    • Guest

      Yeah, If Lance is looking for a max contract, then he’ll wait and sign an offer with another team. In the case of Lin, he wanted to stay a Knick, but the Knicks handled that situation VERY VERY VERY POORLY. If they had offered him a contract I’m sure Lin would have signed with the knicks and avoided that whole Poison pill entirely (which they have to be regretting at this time; rockets that is).
      If Lance is true to his word, he’ll sign what ever hte Pacers throw at him. Which should be at least the Hill contract of 8mil/y for 5 years. More likely to be 10mil/y over 4-5 years. George Hill really needs to restructure his bloated contract, it’s the only one I don’t like on the Pacers squad at the moment.

      • Guest

        should mention that restructing can only be done in the 3rd year of a 4 year contract. wishful thinking.

  • Joe Betz

    I’m looking forward to the salary breakdown. Last season, the Pacers biggest priorities were to resign West and give PG his max deal. That happened. Now, the biggest priority is to keep Lance. The Pacers don’t have to worry about paying a first round pick next year…I see the 2nd round pick swapped for cash…TELL US HOW LANCE STAYS AND MAKE US FEEL BETTER, JARED.

    • Derek U

      Granger walks. that’s all that can happen to make Lance stay.

      • Joe Betz

        Yeah, but that’s a given–Hill is the Granger replacement-pick….not in skill, but in position and hoped-for second unit consistency. I want to see the maximum amount of money Lance can earn per year to allow the team to stay under the cap. He is a 4mil / yr player now. 3 year 12mil contract is my hope, and I think Lance takes it.

        • Derek U

          Lance is a 4 mil / yr player? If that’s the case, just how bloated do you think George Hill’s contract is? Cause he’s an 8 mil / yr.

          4 to me is an insult to Lance, You start at 5 if the team can afford it, and go from there. But, the season is young, towards the end Lance will have his play earn him a 10 mil/yr contract.

          • Joe Betz

            10! That is what we gave D West during his first contract. I think the most Lance gets is 6mil per year with the Pacers. George Hill is overpaid at 8mil a year, so the Pacers have shown they will overpay for players they really like, but if Lance plays himself into an 8mil a year deal, the Pacers can’t keep him. 30 mil over 5 years? Would he take that?

          • Derek U

            If he’s humble enough, Yeah he’ll take it, and I do believe he is. But Athletes have ego’s and one of the only way to feed the ego is contract size amongst other teammates and players around the league. It’ll be really hard for Stephenson not to look to his left and see GHill’s bloated 40mil/5 year contract and not compare his worth to that (Him, and his agent). I hope that he’ll take a 1-2 year deal for 5 million a year and wait for some contracts to fall off the records. He’s easily worth the 8 million being paid to Hill.

  • Ryne Stawick

    Did you write a “Dummies Guide to the NBA Salary Cap” last season? If not, maybe you could write a quick piece about the nuances of the Pacers financial challenges.

    • Derek U

      Here is all you need to know. The Pacers don’t have money.
      This doesn’t have PG’s current contract that starts next season I do believe. So basically, Granger has to walk, and you still have to squeeze lemonade out of this lineup to pay Stephenson with Granger gone. If they’re smart, they’d find a way to fix George Hills extremely bloated contract. his defense isn’t worth 8 mil/y, and is lacking a home town discount. He’s worth more around 6.

  • Ian

    You all need to stop ripping on Hill’s contract. He’s an above average offensive guard who provides near elite defense guarding 1s or 2s, and he’s clutch. Ideally sure he’d be paid 6-7M instead of 8M, but he’s hardly overpaid compared to dozens of guards in the NBA.

    I’m not exactly sure what the limits are on when the Pacers can offer Lance a new deal but I do hope they do it soon. Attendence is supposedly up this year and deep playoff runs == more money and more marketing opportunities plus the Pacers are getting money from revenue sharing.

    If they get really desperate, perhaps they can trade Mahinmi and a 2nd rounder to someone for a trade exemption or something and then sign a backup big to a vet minimum. Mahinmi is a valuable player but if he costs us keeping Lance… One can hope that if the Pacers make it to the finals that vets might be willing to sign with the Pacers to fill out their bench on the hope of getting a ring.

    • Derek U

      It’s an extremely bloated contract. No other team in the league would pay him over 6mil a year most likely, and we’re his HOME TEAM. Where’s the discount? I love Ghill, but didn’t like the contract Day 1. He’s done nothing to deserve 40 million over 5 years.

      • Ian

        Here’s a list of GUARDS in the EASTERN CONFERENCE ONLY who make as much or more than George Hill and posted a PER lower than his 16.59 last season. Of them, only Deng could be considered as good a defender as George. So that’s 6 guards in the East only who are more overpaid than George, some of them much more overpaid. Plus you make it sound like the Pacers being his home team is such a huge bonus. It’s not. Indianapolis is not a destination spot. Even guys who grew up there don’t necessarily want to stay there.

        Joe Johnson, 21.4M PER: 14.14

        DeMar DeRozan 9.5M PER: 15.06

        Loul Deng 14.3M PER: 15.12

        Rodney Stuckey 8.5M PER: 13.00

        Ben Gordon 13.2M PER: 12.74

        Jameer Nelson 8.6M PER: 14.44

        • Derek U

          It’s every kids dream to play for their home team. He grew up a Pacer fan and loves his community. He didn’t have to play at IUPUI, there are bigger schools in Indiana that would have taken him in a heart beat. He chose to stay close to home.

          I’d love to find a list of players with higher PER’s making less, but I’m stupid today and can’t use any search engine to find a list of players sorted top to bottom by PER. You also listed 2 of the most over paid players in the league in JJ and Gordon.

          • Ian

            That’s a lot of ifs and assumptions. He didn’t ask to be traded to the Pacers. He had a chance to give the Pacers a hometown discount once and he didn’t do it, so why do you expect him to do it now? You can’t really restructure contracts in the NBA anyways, it’s not like the NFL with non-guaranteed money.

            Find a list of guards who are paid less than him, have a higher PER, play defense AND aren’t on their rookie contract anymore. There are lots of guys in the 5-6M range but have massive holes in their game. Also take into account because of Hill’s age, we are pretty much guaranteed at least that level of performance every season. He actually improved last year. Someone like JR Smith for example, will be in decline by the end of his deal, is a head case, and doesn’t play D. Same with JJ Redick (except for the head case part).

          • Derek U

            My “If’s and or assumptions” Are based from interviews I’ve read and watched from Hill.

            I’m trying to find a list that gives me PER, I’m stupid with the internet today and can’t find a list of players. In all your research tho, you haven’t listed any POINT GUARDS, outside of Nelson and Stuckey. Nelson who got his contract with Dwight around and at the peak of his career, and Stuckey paid on potential with no promise (maybe if he could stay healthy).

            I don’t hate Ghill, it’s just the opposite, but I found the contract questionable from the get go. He plays defense, and hits 3s, that’s it. He’s not managing the game, he’s not finding open players or driving the lane. In the end, it’s a gaudy contract for the worst player on the starting unit and wouldn’t be surprised if it got moved to make room for Lance, who let’s face it, is becoming the more complete player.

          • Derek U

            Not only that, but how often does Hill get destroyed by the top point guards in the league? Only one he’s kept under wraps was Chris Paul, but he just destroyed the Pacers in assists that night.

          • Ian

            Eastern Conference PGs (btw I am doing this all manually, there’s no way to search for this stuff that I can find)

            Rondo 12M
            Deron Williams 18.5M amd rising
            Raymond Felton 3.6M
            Michael Carter Williams -Rookie
            Derek Rose 17.6M and rising
            Kyrie Irving – rookie contract
            Brandon Jennings 7.655M new deal increases yearly
            Brandon Knight – rookie contract
            Jeff Teague 8M
            Kemba Walker – rookie contract
            Mario Chalmers – 4M
            Jameer Nelson – 8.6M
            John Wall 7.459M (goes to 13.7M next year)

            So, of the 13 starting PGs in the East, of those
            we have 4 players who make way more (Rose, Williams, Wall, Rondo who are all or were considered at one time franchise players)
            4 on rookie contracts (all but Knight will likely make more than George when they get their first deals)
            Teague and Jennings and Nelson who all make roughly the same as George Hill, post PERs around the same or worse, and are worse defensively
            Mario Chalmers who posted a 13.2 PER last season while playing with the best player on the planet
            Raymond Felton who basically ate his way out of Portland and signed a below market deal with the Knicks before rebounding

            My point is you have to look at Hill’s contract in context with other experienced point guards. And in that context his deal is right in line with other players with similar profiles, and he fits the Pacers better than any of those players.

      • Realist

        Hill’s won us plenty of games by himself, actually.

        Sure we’d rather be paying him $6m a year than 8, but it’s not that horrible. Plus, we’ve gotten spectacular value out of PG’s and Lance’s rookie deals. We can’t complain too much.

  • Pingback: The Lance Stephenson Contract FAQ | 8 Points, 9 Seconds