Indiana Pacers: Have we seen the last of Lance Stephenson in Indiana?
The Indiana Pacers signed Lance Stephenson for the rest of the 2021-22 season around the all-star break. Now, the season is over and Stephenson is an unrestricted free agent.
After signing multiple ten-day contracts with the Indiana Pacers this season, Stephenson earned a roster spot in the down year that Indiana had. Will the team bring him back next season?
The Pacers could have up to four draft selections this season if the Cleveland Cavaliers make the playoffs. That means four new players that could fill a roster spot next season.
I think there will be three or four players for sure off the roster next season, but a lot of it depends on how many draft picks the Pacers will have and where those picks land.
For Lance, I wouldn’t mind seeing him brought back to a veteran deal to be a third point guard and a veteran presence on this team. Lance is Indiana basketball and over the past few seasons, the team has lost its former identity.
There is no question that Lance would prefer to remain with the blue and gold. In a media session during a Pacers practice a few days ago, Lance was asked a question by James Boyd of the IndyStar about his free agency.
“I definitely want to be here, so I’m ready. Let’s make it happen”, Stephenson said.
Lance appeared in 40 games for the Pacers this season, including one start while averaging 18.2 minutes a game. This was after starting the year with the Grand Rapids Gold in the G-League and then playing for the Atlanta Hawks on a ten-day contract.
In those 40 games with the Pacers, he would average 9.3 points per game and 3.9 assists while shooting 45.8% from the field. He did struggle from the three-point line, shooting just 31% on 2.2 attempts a game.
Of course, there were some flashy plays and highlights from the season as well, which is bound to happen when Lance gets to play in front of the home crowd.
This is one of a few other highlight-reel plays from Lance this year. He has grown into a strong passer and has been excellent at getting to the rim after attacking the paint. He has even shown more of his drive and kick ability which was exciting to see.
In today’s team exit interviews, Lance said the Pacers front office and him would “see if we can figure something out.” I hope that to be true. His energy and passion for this franchise is not something that comes around often and right now, Lance is 31 years old.
I think the team would be able to swing a Stephenson signing this offseason, but it does depend on the state of the draft and if there are any trades made.
The Indiana Pacers’ current roster includes Oshae Brissett, Chris Duarte, Goga Bitadze, Duane Washington Jr., Myles Turner, Lance Stephenson, Malcolm Brogdon, Isaiah Jackson, Terry Taylor, T.J. McConnell, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Jalen Smith, Ricky Rubio, and T.J. Warren.
I think Jalen Smith, Ricky Rubio, and Goga Bitadze won’t be on next year’s roster, which would open up three draft selections to fit into the next group minus the two two-way spots. This would also allow Lance to re-sign on a new deal without impacting the draft which I think is doable. Indiana would only have three picks if Cleveland does not make the playoffs.
The Pacer’s busy offseason will be something to keep an eye on. Firstly, we will watch to see if the Cleveland Cavaliers can beat the Brooklyn Nets in the first play-in game tonight, conveying their first-round pick to us. Then, we wait for the draft lottery to see where the team will end up picking in the 2022 NBA draft.