5 players who turned their backs on the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers have mostly had a history of sustained success. Their highs might have been higher had these five players not turned their backs on them.

Apr 17, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) slam dunks during the
Apr 17, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) slam dunks during the / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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In the history of the Indiana Pacers, they have been mostly a successful franchise. They won multiple championships in the ABA before merging with the NBA. Unfortunately, they have yet to win an NBA title. In fact, they have only made the Finals one time.

They could have been in the Finals more often if a few players wouldn't have turned their backs on them. Most of that has happened in the more modern era. To be honest, the franchise didn't have much NBA success until Reggie Miller was drafted back in 1987.

There are 6 players that I have identified as having turned their backs on the Pacers when they could have used them the most. All of these guys had a chance to stick with the team when they were winning and were contenders for a title. Instead, they left in free agency for one reason or another.

The first player on this list is someone who left to pursue a contract with another team before eventually returning to Indiana. Unfortunately, by the time he came back, the title window had closed.

1. Lance Stephenson

The fanbase absolutely loves Lance. His antics are over the top and annoying, but he's Indiana's annoying player. Before his antics got out of hand, he was actually quite good for the Pacers in the mid-2010s and was a borderline All-Star for a couple of seasons.

After being a second-round pick back in 2010, he spent four seasons with the Pacers in his first stint. By the time he got to his fourth year, he was a bona fide starter on a really good team. Even late in his third season, he was a solid scorer who was big enough to guard wings too.

The 2013 playoffs were when he started to round into shape as a player. He averaged 9.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. He upped that to 13.6 points and 6.9 assists to go along with 4.2 assists in the 2014 playoffs. His big body on defense is really what made him valuable.

Despite being offered a five-year $44 million contract to return to the Pacers, Stephenson left after that 2014 season to sign a three-year $27 million with the Hornets. That was a disaster. In fact, after he left the Pacers Stephenson bounced around five teams in four years before coming back to Indiana.

Had Stephenson returned, the Pacers might have been able to still win a title the following year. Of course, Paul George broke his leg that Summer so that ended any hope, but they could have at least made the playoffs. Stephenson had a shot to be the number-one option with George down too.

Speaking of George, he's the biggest offender and is next on this list.