Having locked up Paul George to a maximum-salary extension this offseason, the Pacers’ ability to continue adding salary for 2014/15 may be limited. However, Lance Stephenson, who will hit free agency next summer, tells Mark Montieth of Pacers.com that he fully intends to remain with the Pacers.
“It’s a long season, I’m not thinking nothing about contracts,” Stephenson said. “I’m going to stay with the Pacers, so I’m not even thinking about the contract.”
Asked if that meant he’d turn down a larger offer from another term to re-sign with Indiana, Stephenson said again that he’s “staying with the Pacers.” We’re still nearly eight months from next year’s free agent period, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into Stephenson’s comments yet. When other teams with deeper pockets get the opportunity to court him, things could change. For now though, it seems as if the 23-year-old wants to work out a new deal with the Pacers
The Pacers already project to be an over-the-cap team in 2014/15, with about $60MM committed to eight guaranteed contracts. Adding Luis Scola‘s partially guaranteed deal and a modest salary for Stephenson could have the team inching toward tax territory, which is likely an area ownership wants to avoid.
Because he’s playing his fourth season in the NBA, Stephenson will be an unrestricted free agent in 2014. That means the Pacers won’t necessarily have the opportunity to match rival offers for the former second-round pick, but it sounds like he’ll probably give the club that chance anyway.