In a free agent market in which everyone, save for Kyle Lowry and Shaun Livingston, is getting big-money deals, you would think Lance Stephenson would be able to find someone to back up the Brinks truck.
Apparently, he hasn’t yet though.
And he might not.
The Pacers started the bidding, reportedly with a guaranteed $44 million over five years (no word if there are any player/team options in there, either of which could change the deals attractiveness).
Since then, it has been crickets. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports said his sources saw the market for Lance as “tough,” giving the Pacers some good leverage despite their not-overwhelming initial offer.
Now there is a report, from Joe Cowley of the Chicaho Sun Times, that the Bulls made only a token inquiry, seeing Stephenson as a fallback option if they can’t make a big splash (i.e., signing Carmelo Anthony). Chicago doubts the have the ability, in a fiscal sense, to sign Stephenson.
There was a report that the Bulls also inquired about Pacers free agent Lance Stephenson. That call was more of a just-in-case, according to the source. The Bulls think Stephenson’s initial asking price is beyond their means.
Charlotte has been listed as another interested team but the closest media member to the team, Rick Bonnell, said he doubts the Hornets end up signing Lance.
FWIW, I don't think there's a strong chance Lance Stephenson ends up signing with the Hornets.
— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) July 2, 2014
Pat Riley also reportedly offered Lance the mid level exception (around $5.5 million in year one) to join Indiana’s rivals in Miami, per Dan Le Batard. Stephenson reportedly said he wanted double that offer.
Who is left bidding for Stephenson then?
The Lakers have often been reported to be another interested party, but — like Chicago — they won’t turn much attention to Lance until after LeBron and Carmelo officially tell them no.
There are obviously more than 20 other teams in the league. So there are plenty of other potential landing spots for Stephenson.
But some simply lack the financial capability to sign him while others were reportedly turned off by his antics during the Eastern Conference Finals. Still others certainly never had him in their plans.
So who is left?
There aren’t a lot of obvious suitors.
Perhaps Larry Bird gauged the market for Stephenson better than anyone. If so, he may have already outbid all competitors, in the process winning back the tarnished 23-year-old talent on a seemingly cheap deal.