FRIDAY, 12:09pm: The deal is official, the team announced via press release:
“We are extremely excited to add Lance to our team,” Hornets GM Rich Cho said. “He is a great up-and-coming player with an incredibly high ceiling. He is an exceptional athlete who has the versatility and skill to play multiple positions on both offense and defense. We believe he will be an outstanding addition to our roster.”
WEDNESDAY, 8:07am: The Hornets will sign Lance Stephenson to a three-year deal, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. It’s worth $27.5MM, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. The value of the deal is $9MM in the first two seasons and $9.5MM in the final year. Both Bonnell and Charania refer to that third season as a team option, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a non-guaranteed year instead, since few veteran free agent deals include team options.
The agreement is for fewer years and less money than the five year, $44MM offer the Pacers made, but the average annual value is slightly greater. There were conflicting reports about Charlotte’s interest in Stephenson immediately after talks between thee Pacers and the Alberto Ebanks client hit a snag. In any case, the Hornets made a push late Tuesday, as owner Michael Jordan, GM Rich Cho, coach Steve Clifford and other Hornets officials met with Stephenson in Las Vegas, and the sides quickly came to a deal, as Charania details.
Stephenson came close to signing with the Mavs, and he was finalizing a deal with them before the Rockets decided against matching the Dallas offer sheet for Chandler Parsons, Charania reports. The Pistons, Bucks, Lakers and Bulls all made contact with Stephenson, too, according to Charania.
The news is a blow to the Pacers, and president of basketball operations Larry Bird in particular, who had reportedly been fond of the temperamental 23-year-old shooting guard. Bird hinted during the season that re-signing Stephenson was a priority for the club, and Stephenson made plenty of indications that he intended to come back. Still, the Pacers set a price ceiling that they steadfastly wouldn’t exceed, and once talks with Stephenson came to an impasse, they made a series of agreements that largely eliminated their space beneath the luxury tax threshold, a line the team has refused to cross in recent years.
The Hornets are using cap room to come to the agreement. They had reportedly been likely to make an amnesty waiver claim on Carlos Boozer using their cap space. The Stephenson deal probably takes them out of the running for Boozer, though that’s just my speculation.
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