Examining the Lance Stephenson Saga

by Scott Agness

Love Indiana, Imma miss ‘em good days/ Charlotte Hornet, MJ, that’s the new wave.

That’s a lyric from Lance Stephenson’s rap song that he put out (with an music video shortly thereafter) a little more than a month after signing with the Charlotte Hornets this past summer. He spent the first four years of his career in Indy.

New wave?

Well, it was short-lived. Just 23 games in — the same number team owner Michael Jordan made famous — and the Hornets are willingly listening to trade offers for their offseason signee. They want to cut ties.

If you remember, the Hornets did not make Stephenson a priority early on. They sought out Brownsburg, Indiana native Gordon Hayward and signed him to a four-year offer sheet worth the max, $63 million. When the Utah Jazz did what they had to do, match the offer sheet to keep one their own, the Hornets were forced to look elsewhere.

The Pacers moved on, too, after Stephenson wasn’t satisfied with the five-year contract, $44 million offer coming from Larry Bird. That averaged out to $8.8 million per year.

“We knew Lance’s true value,” one team source told me. And that has become even more clear.

A couple weeks later, Stephenson signed with the Hornets for $27.4 million over three years. The third year is a very favorable team option. So essentially, the Hornets — or whichever team is willing to trade for him — owe him less than $18 million through the 2015-16 season. It’s a gamble for sure, but it’s a friendly contract.

Intrigue

When I walked into the Pacers locker room on Monday, the first thing a player said to me was, “What is all this about Lance? You think we’re going to get him back?”

Just like the fans, the players hear things from friends and they follow the news on social media.

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