FRIDAY, 12:55pm: Stephenson’s representatives spoke with the Pacers earlier today, but they’re not any closer to a deal, according to Broussard (Twitter link).
WEDNESDAY, 7:35am: The Pacers and Lance Stephenson have reached an impasse in negotiations, with the shooting guard unwilling to accept Indiana’s offer of five years and $44MM, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The Alberto Ebanks client will move on to discussions with other teams, and the Bulls, Lakers and Hornets have interest, Broussard adds.
Indiana rolled out the red carpet for Stephenson in the hours immediately after free agency began, reportedly producing a movie in his honor as the team sought to win him over. President of basketball operations Larry Bird has spoken on multiple occasions of his affection for the tempermental 23-year-old, in spite of some apparent misgivings from others in the organization. Bird nonetheless prefaced his remarks a month ago by saying the team had a price ceiling that it wouldn’t exceed to re-sign him.
At least one NBA GM believes Stephenson would be worth $10-12MM on talent alone, but his on-court antics and alleged selfish behavior knocked his value down to $8-10MM in the GM’s eyes, as Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops reported last month. Another GM pegged him all the way down in the $4-6MM range annually, so it seems like the average annual value of $8.8MM that the Pacers apparently have on the table wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice.
Still, players of Stephenson’s talent rarely hit unrestricted free agency at such a young age, so perhaps he can find a team willing to pay more. A report linked the Lakers, Bulls and then-Bobcats to Stephenson as far back as early February, so it seems those clubs weren’t turned off by Indiana’s second-half swoon.