The Indiana Pacers and Lance Stephenson are nearly inseparable. There is no question that Lance loves playing in front of Indiana fans, and the fans love watching Lance play basketball.
Last season the Pacers made moves, got younger, and Lance re-joined the team for the third time in his NBA career. Lance signed with the Pacers for the rest of the season after a slew of 10-day contracts during the 2021-22 season. Now he is an unrestricted free agent and has yet to be signed.
Lance Stephenson is must-watch TV in Indiana. Can the Indiana Pacers be able to re-sign him and keep him on the roster?
The Front Office could sign him to their open roster spot right now. However, I think if a Lance deal is to happen, it will be closer to training camp. This doesn’t mean they should, but they can if they so choose.
The Indiana Pacers currently have 13 players on the roster without having signed two of their three rookies from the 2022 draft class. Andrew Nembhard signed his rookie contract, and I reported that the Pacers plan to sign Kendall Brown to a two-way contract. When they do, the team will be at 14 rostered players, plus Brown’s two-way deal. That would mean the team has one open roster spot for a standard NBA contract.
The full contracted roster as it stands:
- Tyrese Haliburton
- Buddy Hield
- Myles Turner
- Bennedict Mathurin
- Chris Duarte
- Oshae Brissett
- Isaiah Jackson
- Terry Taylor
- Goga Bitadze
- Jalen Smith
- T.J. McConnell
- Aaron Nesmith
- Daniel Theis
- Andrew Nembhard
If the 15th spot were to be filled by someone who isn’t Lance, I feel like making a trade with Goga Bitadze in the mix isn’t unreasonable. Goga Bitadze has dealt with injuries in his short NBA career and hasn’t stuck into the rotation with the Indiana Pacers since being drafted. Making a trade involving Goga would be difficult – he would have to be included in a deal with another player if the team wants any significant return. There isn’t value right now due to Bitadze’s injury history and lack of opportunity with this franchise.
So why would the Pacers want to re-sign Lance?
The team is gearing up for another losing season by nature as they are a young team that is still going through growing pains. Lance Stephenson sells tickets, is fun to watch, and loves this team. He is a great guy for the locker room and made a lot of relationships with players over the years.
Why would the team not want to re-sign him?
The team just signed Andrew Nembhard to a 4-year deal to be a rotation point guard, the spot Lance excels the most in. With Haliburton, McConnell, and now Nembhard officially I don’t know if re-signing Lance makes sense. Don’t get it twisted, I love Stephenson, and his relationship with the fans of Indiana is unmatched. However, he is 31 years old, and the Pacers just invested in their rookie point guard.
I think if there is a way to make him the 15th man, and that is something he was up for – do that. Buddy Hield, Bitadze, and Theis are moveable pieces that could open that roster spot if that 15th spot was filled by someone who isn’t Lance and allow him to stay home.