May 30, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) looks on during a game six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Lance Stephenson to Sign Three-Year Deal with Charlotte

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweeted the news that Pacer fans have been dreading early Wednesday morning: Lance Stephenson will no longer be a Pacer.

The $9 million Charlotte offers for next season is roughly $1.3 million more than Stephenson stood to make in the first year of the reported five-year, $44-million offer. The full deal will pay Lance about $3 million more over its three years than the Pacer offer.

We’ve documented the struggle facing Indiana in their efforts to re-sign for most of the past year. As expected, the biggest obstacle to re-signing Lance proved to be the luxury tax and the limited amount of money the Pacers could offer at the start of the contract. The starting salary of Charlotte’s offer is about a half million dollars higher than we identified in June as the practical peak the Pacers could offer as a starting salary.

In a league where billions of dollars are paid to players, a few million dollars can feel like a very small amount to interested third parties. However, it remains a lot of money in real terms – and to the situations of both Lance Stephenson and the Pacers.

For the player, the $3-million difference over the next three years is almost equal to what he was paid in the first four years of his career. Stephenson’s rookie contract paid him just over $3.4 million over its length. Last season, Lance was paid just over $1 million to start all 116 of the regular season and playoff games he played in for the Pacers. Contrast that with Evan Turner, who was paid more than twice that (over $2.2 million) for the 39 games (regular season and playoffs) he took the floor for Indiana.

For the team, the $1.3-million first year difference meant that Indiana would have had to find a way to reduce their payroll by almost $6-and-a-half million to get back under the tax. Further, even spending up to the tax threshold of $76.829 million would have represented a $7-million increase in their payroll from last season.

Further complicating matters is the conundrum that is Lance Stephenson. This is a player who has made massive improvements over the last two years. He is extremely talented and exciting and plays with unquestioned effort – at both ends of the floor. Yet those things get obscured by what has come to be described as “Lance’s antics.”

And these “antics” – real or perceived – have apparently cost Lance millions of dollars on this contract. The reported three-year deal with the Hornets will pay him less than 60% of Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons will take home during that time. Further, the third year is purportedly a team option for Charlotte, while Hayward’s is guaranteed (he has a four-year deal) and Parsons has a player option.

The Pacers have been accused of low-balling Stephenson, and in the context of the Hayward and Parsons deals, that looks true. However, that market was simply not there for Lance. Several teams had no interest in him at all, and even Charlotte waited out all of their other options, before making a deal very much on their terms. The Pacers tried to trade commitment – five years – for money, and they didn’t succeed.

Now, the Pacers must move forward. They currently have 14 players under contract and are about $3.5 million correction: $2.5 million under the tax threshold. They are out of exceptions with which to sign free agents above the minimum contract. Standing pat – at least for now – is certainly a possibility. However, C.J. Miles is now #1 on their depth chart at shooting guard, so there may be moves to come.

Indiana stands about $3.5 million below the luxury tax threshold, correction: $2.5 million and they have two trade exceptions they could use to wrangle a low-level sign-and-trade to fill that gap. Luis Scola’s partially unguaranteed deal could also be an attractive trading chip that could potentially bring back a player making roughly $7 million.

Also, I believe the Pacers could try to turn Lance’s signing into a sign-and-trade in hopes of bringing back Gerald Henderson, who had been a Bird target a few years ago. However, there’s no indication Charlotte would be interested in any such deal.

Regardless, the work now begins for Larry Bird and his brain trust.

Tags: Lance Stephenson

  • Joshua Haskell

    Lance can eat a dick. He’s fucking dead to me. Break a leg in Charlotte. Literally.

    • Derek U


    • Josh

      I hope you’re not a Pacers fan.

  • Derek U

    The Pacers just got Pierre Garçon’d by Lance.. Promises loyalty, ‘feels disrespected’ by the initial offer, doesn’t negotiate for a shorter deal and then leaves for a shittier team making a couple million more over the duration of the contract.

    Good job Lance, you went from a title contender to a division loser.

    • Caleb Ely

      How do you know he did not negotiate for a shorter deal?

      • ross

        ITS ON ESPN

        The Pacers were unwilling to offer Stephenson a shorter deal, spanning
        two or three years, sources said. Indiana was also unwilling to increase
        its offer. please read stuff before posting.

        • Caleb Ely

          LOL, No, that is what I am saying. The poster “Derek U” is mad at Stephenson for not trying to negotiate a shorter term. I was wondering how he knew Stephenson did not try to negotiate a shorter deal when he actually did. My opinion is the Pacers are stupid for not matching that and kinda have treated him like crap. Anyways I am not going to read the whole internet before asking a question.

          • Derek U

            And in what world do the Pacers have the choice to match? He’s not a restricted free agent, he can sign with who he wants, learn a little about restricted free agency.

          • Caleb Ely

            Please don’t patronize me. I know Lance was not a restricted free agent and what that means. My point had nothing to do with that and is not what I was referring to when I used the word “match”. Obviously Lance could have done whatever he wanted. But Lance is on record saying he would prefer to stay with the Pacers and the Pacers are on record that they would not shorten the length of the contract.

            1. The Pacers could have “matched” that offer before he signed, like when Lance originally negotiated with the Pacers. If Lance asked for a similar deal during negotiations, they should have accepted.
            2. Lance(or his agent) likely came back and asked the Pacers to “match” after he got the offer and before he signed with Charlotte. If they did not, it was probably due to the fact that the Pacers were so firm about their inflexibility from what they originally offered.

          • Derek U

            And I’m still pissed because the Pacers did offer a shorter deal with player option and still got denied. Also, you should read the internet some before talking shit, that way you don’t come out looking like an ass.

        • Ian

          This is a terrible mistake by the Pacers that I don’t understand at all.

          Offering Lance a sub market deal might have been ok with an opt-out. but as it was they almost forced him to go somewhere else where he’d be able to opt-out in a couple years for a MUCH larger contract. Pacers virtually pushed him out the door.

          The fact that the Pacers were totally unwilling to negotiate further makes me think they really didn’t want Lance in the first place.

    • ross

      Pacers Refused to give a shorter offer, and unlike in Football there isn’t a forced hard cap. Pacers are being cheap at the expense of a REAL FUCKING title window they would have with Lance. We don’t have the ability to bring in SUPERSTARS/alstars, unless we draft them, or if there old and we overpay them (see david west),. So not resigning lance by offering him the shorter contract he wanted is one of the dumbest fucking things in the world exspecially with Cleveland not going to be as good as miami was last year. FUCK THE PACERS IM DONE WITH THEM AND THERE CHEAP OWNER.

      • Caleb Ely

        Agreed. At 9mil a year Stephenson would have really been the only Starter not overpaid. And this is after he played harder than anyone else for them for years for next to nothing compared to his value. If anyone has had a lack of loyalty, it is the Pacers organization.

      • Derek U

        You can blame the owner for that one, Simon is the one who refuses to go over the cap. Also, a shorter contract would have got him past the bloated Roy Hibbert, David West and George Hill contracts and likely would have been signed to a real contract then. Hence, the shorter contract.

        • Caleb Ely

          Exactly, shortening the contract is the one thing the Pacers could have and should have done.

          • Derek U

            “Except that according to Bird, the Pacers were willing to offer a shorter-term contract that would have given Stephenson the chance to cash in should his game continue to grow the way both he and Bird believe it will. The Pacers were also willing, however grudgingly, to give Stephenson a player option after four years of a five-year contract so that he could opt-out and test the market once the cap money increased. ”

            The Pacers did offer.. So say what you will since you just like showing up and talking shit.

          • Caleb Ely

            Let me be more clear and talk slowly since you do not seem to understand simple statements in context of the thread.

            Yes, Of course they were willing to entertain a shorter deal, but that means nothing if you don’t consider what they are offering to pay him in that deal. I can see the headline now “Pacers sign Lance Stephens for a 3 year deal at the league minimum”.

            No, they would not do a shorter deal at the same value or yearly salary. This is what I am talking about. This is normal but shows they undervalued him. The Pacers would not have paid him 27mil for 3 years, Charlotte would. The Pacers would not have paid 26.4 mil (44 / 5 x 3 yrs) for 3 years either. So believing they just did not have the money in the short term (because of over-payed player that may later no longer be under contract in the future) is wrong. So what were you expecting Stephenson to do?

            Say whatever you want. Show up and talk shit about Lance. Pacers gave him a bad deal, were inflexible and undervalued him. My opinion, their loss. A player of Stephensons talent and shape should not bank on himself getting injured or getting worse at basketball. Guess we will see in three years. My opinion, he will make a lot more money after 5 years, than if he would have taken the Pacer deal. Any decision he could have made has an element of risk. But in a world Chris Bosh is offered 88 million for 4 years, Lance is definitely worth more than 44 for 5. Pacer should have known that.

          • Derek U

            They undervalued him, no ones disagreeing with that.. But if he felt so undervalued, why sign a 3 year deal with a TEAM option for hardly a quarter million more. His antics are what killed him in this free agency, if he doesn’t realize that he wont make more money than what the Pacers offered him after his 3 year (possibly 2 year) contract is up.

            So either his agents are retarded or Lance was making this personal before free agency ever started.

          • Caleb Ely

            I agree it is not a great deal for him and his low value probably has something to do with his reputation, personality. He probably just had no other options. The Bobcats probably would not have signed him to the deal without the team option. Lance probably has the confidence in himself that the team option wont matter and that he will get a big deal in 3 years. Hindsight is 20/20. But if Lance does get a big contract in 3 years, if not even just by higher caps, it wont look so retarded as it does now.

      • Derek U
    • Caleb Ely

      Charlotte was not a division loser and just got a lot better. Charlotte very well could now have a better record than the Pacers next year.

  • RayFinkle5

    He double screwed us – now it’s too late to find a replacement

  • Realist

    “I’m staying with the Pacers”

  • lil-bang

    The Possible Important Reasons for Lance to go to Charlotte for the contract he signed:
    1. New TV contracts to come in a few years (most likely more money for contracts but some help from Tim on how much this would be could be helpful)
    2. Didn’t Like Indy
    3. Wanted a larger role
    Pending on #1, I don’t see Lance getting a deal better than 2 years $17million in his next contract. He has alot of talent, but I believe alot of people spent alot of time watching and mentoring Lance in Indy compared to what he will get anywhere else. I personally think his career will plummet from here, but maybe he will prove me wrong, because he does have alot of talent.
    Cracks me up all the people who haven’t followed Lance very long and say that his antics are just on the court. They must not have googled him and seen where right after he signed his rookie contract with the Pacers he shoved his girlfriend down the stairs and then slammed her head into the bottom step…that is a behavior that I don’t think just goes away and I’m glad nothing else happened(that we know of).
    Will be interesting to see if the Pacers chemistry comes back. I really think it will, whenever the Pacers had team meetings or even went fishing together most of the time Lance was never there (or never included?). Usually the odd man out is the guy that is causing the problems.

    One thing for sure is the East Central will be tough.
    GO Pacers!!!

    • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

      Salary cap expected by some executives to be in the ballpark of $80M in 2017.

    • Josh

      Those charges were dropped. Do your research before you slander people on the internet.

      • lil-bang

        Here’s your research.

        1.Her father said he had abused her before and stated he didn’t want to call the cops and mess up his career.
        2.WitnesseS (plural) saw him do it.
        3.Not the only case that was dropped against him in his life.
        4. Abuse is one of (if not the most) dropped case in court.
        5. If the charges are dropped, it doesn’t mean the crime didn’t happen. It just means whoever it happened to doesn’t want to take it to court.
        6.The only statement is from his Lawyer saying “did not maliciously, intentionally or in any other way cause harm to Jasmine Williams.”
        7. If I put ‘allegedly” before “he shoved his girlfriend down the stairs and then slammed her head into the bottom step” would it have made it sound any better?
        8. Was I there? No. But this does make his history questionable off the court.

        Saying all of this, I actually wish Lance could have stayed. This team had something at the beginning of last year that was amazing. Lance is young with the possibility of improving along side PG. This team could have been something with him. Now they will just have to be something without him.

        Go Pacers!!!

  • llcoolray3000

    Welp, that sucks.

  • MarkShek

    -”lance screwed us…” no he didn’t
    -”lance owed us his loyalty…” no he didn’t
    -”i hope he breaks his leg…” you’re a dick
    -”i’m done with the pacers…” no you’re not, but if you really are, then you weren’t much of a fan to begin with
    -”sucks to lose lance, and it’s going to be nigh impossible to replace his production, but each party involved made the decision that they felt was appropriate for them…” yes

    • Derek U

      Never heard “I’m done with the Pacers”.. What’s the point of being upset of a player leaving your team if you just stop following the team?

      Also, he kinda does owe this team his loyalty. They took the risk on him in the second round knowing his reputation, they stood by him while being accused of abuse/harassment, they stood by his antics year after year and he himself said he wasn’t going anywhere.

      • MarkShek

        the “i’m done with them” was from a response to your comment above. My comment wasn’t meant as a reply specifically to you, more as a general reply to the many reactions I’ve seen that say something like these things.

        i’d say lance more than re-payed any perceived debt he owed the organization (a premise i disagree with, but i’ll go along with it) by:
        (a) being basically the only player who consistently showed up and gave max effort throughout the entire season (not to mention his production in the prior season as well);
        (b) often outperforming every other player on the roster in a given game, including the new face of the franchise, PG;
        (c) getting paid pennies (relatively) to do (a) and (b). Lance gave an all-star caliber season and got paid just $1 million for it;
        (d) often being the only source of entertainment and seeming like the only guy (along with West) who gave a damn during the god-awful post-all star half of this season, while watching a guy like Hibbert, being paid more than 14 times as much, lumber around like he forgot how to play.

        What more does he owe the organization? He played his ass off for them when most everyone else seemed to just lay down (again, D-West excluded). If anything, i’d say the scales would be tipped the other direction with the Pacers owing a hell of a lot more to him at this point.

        Also, you do realize that the statement where he said he was staying was back in November… back when the pacers looked unbeatable, granger was still around, Hibbert hadn’t blasted him as selfish, the rest of the team hadn’t shit the bed on an entire half of a season, etc. A LOT changed since then, so to hold him to those words seems like a stretch. Jared’s next couple paragraphs in that article even acknowledged that, and he couldn’t possibly foresee the shitstorm that was to follow at that point.

        tl;dr… if anyone owes anyone in this relationship, the pacers owe far more to lance than he owes them

    • poot

      ??? who is saying this? I think Pacer nation was pretty split on the Lance free agency situation. some of us wanted him to either return for under his market value in the name of keeping the team together, finals run, etc or get lowballed by every other team out there and have the Pacers be the highest bidders.
      the rest of us wanted him gone. not “breaks his leg” gone, but “somebody else’s problem” gone. Sorry, i loved the times i cheered for Lance. he made some mind boggling plays. his defense was really really solid. he added unpredictability/excitement we havent seen in a Pacer uniform since Jamaal Tinsley’s rookie campaign. his scoop layups, his occasional statue of liberty dunks, his look away passes, he did them great, and they were fun to watch.
      but, his overdribbling, his propensity to go away from plays that were working, his “do it all myself, unless i can make a behind the back pass” attitude, they were painful. and numerous. sure, we all love to remember Lance dribbling between his legs and twirling around and the play ending in a made shot or layup or assist. but if you’re looking at it objectively, those were rare. memorable, but much more rare than plays that went nowhere. his 1on4 solo fast breaks were so frustrating, even if once in a while he’d finish all on his own (and usually it was a freak play, like the one where he landed on his back)

      he shot 3s at a decent clip, but he’s by no means a 3 point threat. he is a pretty poor free throw shooter overall. coming in to take his minutes are a 3 point threat, and a great free throw shooter/foul drawer.

      the difference between Lance and the new guys is playing with purpose. you never know what you will get from Lance. While Miles/Stuckey can’t do half the things he can, at least they will have a role, and you can trust them to follow the role. can you imagine either of those guys saying that they’re an all star?

      Lance is lucky that the Pacers gave him multiple chances. he was garbage as a rookie. he was garbage in year 2. he was decent in year 3 when Granger went down, but remember, the big story was PG’s ascent into stardom given Granger’s injury, not Lance’s ascent into being a decent player. If Lance was a free agent in 2013, he would not have had anywhere near the offers he got this time around. But he had a great start to the 13/14 season. he got 4 triple doubles before all star break. he was a very good +/- player. he filled the stat sheets and made his shots, and made some plays. after the all star “snub” he went on a mission to make plays every time he got the ball. he got one garbage triple double in game81 and had a poor +/-. according to his teammates he was selfish, worth punching in the face, and someone they were unsure if they wanted back.

      clearly you gotta play the “we want you back Lance” card, as i said before, because you could possibly have him on the cheap. otherwise, let him walk. Pacers are better off for it.

      Hibbert / Mahinmi / Allen (& Whittington)
      West / Scola / Rudez
      George / Copeland
      Miles / Stuckey / S Hill
      G Hill /. Watson / Sloan

  • Ian

    Well, I have to admit I don’t understand this at all. Why wouldn’t the Pacers offer Lance a shorter deal? Why force him to take a 5 year deal that would almost certainly have undervalued him the last several seasons by many millions of dollars. This would have only resulted in him getting angry and dissatisfied.

    I thought all along the Pacers could go to the option of giving him an opt-out after 3 years as a compromise, but it sounds like they were unwilling to do that, which was basically saying, we don’t want you go somewhere else.

    It’s a huge dropoff in talent for the team with absolutely nothing in return, a disaster.

  • Brandon Burton

    What happened to Charlotte not being interested in him? Anyway, it looks like the team just took a pretty big hit; though I think being top three or four in the East and making some noise in the playoffs is realistic. Our chances of a title, barring unforeseen circumstances, are pretty much gone, however.

  • Derek U

    To those saying that Bird/Pacers didn’t offer a shorter deal.. His agents ruined this from the get-go.