Lance Stephenson

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Sexton, Bulls, Pacers, Stephenson

The Cavaliers were decisive and intentional in the areas they wanted to address in free agency, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscriber link). As Fedor previously outlined, bringing back Ricky Rubio was always the top priority in early free agency, but because Rubio is expected to miss at least the first few months of next season while recovering from a torn ACL, the Cavs needed to bring in a second backup point guard to fill in for a while, which is why they agreed to a deal with Raul Neto.

Rubio has been rehabbing in Spain, but sources tell Fedor that the point guard is expected to travel to Cleveland shortly after his signing becomes official so his progress can be checked by team doctors. Adding two backups point guards instead of one creates a roster crunch for the Cavaliers, as after reaching a deal with backup center Robin Lopez, the team will have 15 players under contract with Collin Sexton still a restricted free agent.

Cleveland expects Rubio’s on-court impact could be limited in the first year of his deal, per Fedor, which is why the Cavs brought him back on a three-year contract, with the third year being partially guaranteed. A sign-and-trade with Indiana to free up a roster spot and money remains an option, according to Fedor, who points to Dylan Windler and Cedi Osman as players who could be on the move — if the Pacers are interested.

As for Sexton, sources tell Fedor that the Cavs are determined to stay below the luxury tax line — they’re currently about $15MM below — and view Sexton as worthy of a deal that would pay him in the low-to-mid teens annually. However, despite positive developments in recent negotiations, sources tell Fedor that Sexton wants “starting guard money with an annual salary that starts with a 2, not a 1.”

He has no market,” an opposing executive told Cleveland.com.

Fedor says the negotiations might take a while, and Sexton accepting his $7.2MM qualifying offer in an attempt to rebuild his value and reach unrestricted free agency in 2023 is a real possibility. Sources also tell Fedor that Darius Garland‘s five-year max extension with the Cavaliers is a straight five-year deal with no player option in the fifth season.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Zach LaVine outperformed his previous two contracts (rookie contract and then a four-year, $78MM deal that he just completed), but his new five-year max deal with the Bulls will be measured by the team’s postseason performance, not his individual statistics, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.
  • In a couple of stories for NBC Sports Chicago, Rob Schaefer explores how impending free agent acquisitions Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic can help the Bulls. Schaefer notes that Drummond isn’t an All-Star-caliber player anymore, but he should still be a marginal upgrade over last season’s backup centers, especially on the boards. As for Dragic, Schaefer views the veteran guard as a low-risk insurance policy for Lonzo Ball, since Dragic is signed to a minimum contract.
  • Don’t expect Lance Stephenson to re-sign with the Pacers anytime soon, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link). Once Indiana’s trade with Boston is complete, the Pacers will have 19 players under contract for next season, so they’ll have to figure out how to trim the roster before anything happens with Stephenson — assuming they want him back.

Central Notes: Pacers Rookies, Stephenson, Cavs’ Targets, Sexton, Garland

The Pacers wound up with three players in the draft — lottery pick Bennedict Mathurin and second-rounders Andrew Nembhard and Kendall Brown. Team president Kevin Pritchard has high hopes for the trio, Bob Kravitz of The Athletic writes.

“One of the things I’m absolutely convinced of, these three young men will be a part of this organization for a long time,” Pritchard said. “We wanted to get more athletic, more dynamic and bring some intelligence. All three demonstrated that athleticism and drive to win. The one common denominator is, they all love to play.”

We have more from the Central Division:

Lance Stephenson Underwent Knee Surgery After Season

Pacers wing Lance Stephenson underwent surgery on his right knee in Chicago sometime after the team’s season ended in April, league sources tell Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. According to Agness, the procedure removed “a few loose particles” from the knee.

Stephenson’s exact recovery timeline is unclear, but he’s already back on the floor taking shots, Agness says, so it sounds like the veteran should be ready to go by the time training camp rolls around in the fall, barring any setbacks.

Following a 10-day stint with Atlanta in December, Stephenson signed a series of 10-day contracts with Indiana in January, then finalized a rest-of-season deal with the club in February. The 31-year-old appeared in a total of 40 games for Indiana, averaging 9.3 PPG, 3.9 APG, and 2.8 RPG on .458/.310/.795 shooting in 18.6 minutes per contest.

Stephenson will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but he and the Pacers have mutual interest in a new deal, sources tell Agness. The former second-round pick has had three separate stints with the Pacers and has become a fan favorite over the years in Indiana. A report in April suggested he’d like to spend the rest of his career with the team.

Central Notes: Turner, Pacers, Stephenson, Holiday, Beilein

Considered a prime trade candidate earlier in the season, Pacers center Myles Turner ultimately stayed put after he injured his foot and Indiana opted to move Domantas Sabonis instead. Appearing on the HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files said he believes Indiana should either trade or extend Turner this offseason rather than having him enter 2022/23 on an expiring contract with a retooling team.

Agness believes the Pacers are more likely to bring back Turner than to move him, but notes that the Mavericks would be one team of interest to Turner if he’s shopped, since he was born and raised in the Dallas area. Scotto spoke to four NBA executives who believe the Pacers could get at least a protected first-round pick for Turner if he’s traded this offseason.

Within the same podcast, Agness acknowledged that the Pacers could gauge the trade market for Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield, but he doesn’t view either player as a lock to be dealt. Agness also expressed skepticism that Indiana will be able to re-sign big man Jalen Smith, since he expects other teams to exceed a $4.67MM starting salary, which is the most the Pacers can offer.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Veteran wing Lance Stephenson is interested in re-signing with the Pacers this offseason, regardless of whether the team attempts to reload for another playoff push or leans further into rebuilding mode, according to Scotto. Stephenson would like to spend the rest of his career in Indiana, Scotto adds.
  • Having logged 2,075 minutes this season, Jrue Holiday has earned a $306K bonus in his contract with the Bucks, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Holiday is also on track to receive a bonus based on his games played and rebounds per game, Marks adds (via Twitter).
  • John Beilein‘s brief head coaching stint in Cleveland was a disaster, but he has embraced a new role out of the spotlight with the Pistons, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press details. Detroit’s senior advisor of player development, Beilein is a “meticulous note-taker,” Sankofa writes. “There’s some guys that, with one approach, shoot 45%,” Beilein said. “With another approach, shoot 20%. I keep this. Or left-hand dribble versus right-hand dribble, they shoot drastically different percentages. I’m keeping that stuff that they probably don’t have in the NBA databook, whether a guy shoots a hang dribble or a quick dribble. That’s not in the computer, but I can compute it.”

Pacers Notes: Sykes, Brogdon, Stephenson, Turner, McConnell, Warren

Pacers guard Keifer Sykes, a rookie at age 28, has taken a remarkable path to the NBA, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. It’s an in-depth look at Sykes’ journey — from the harrowing gun violence of his youth in Chicago’s South Side, to starring for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, several stops overseas and much, much more.

Sykes’ mother, Lisa, was thrilled when she learned that his contract had been guaranteed for the remainder of the season.

My heart was just filled with so much joy when he got what he wanted, and that’s to play in the NBA for his dream,” Lisa Sykes said. “When I see him play against his favorite people, seeing him playing against Chris Paul and he went to Chris Paul’s camp, it’s like it’s (full) circle.”

It’s a fascinating story and I recommend checking out the full article.

Here’s more from Indiana:

  • Head coach Rick Carlisle provided injury updates on several players Thursday, including Malcolm Brogdon, who suffered a concussion during Tuesday’s 127-124 loss to Cleveland. Brogdon was struck by an errant elbow from Evan Mobley and will be sidelined for the back-to-back road games this weekend against the Spurs and Hawks, Boyd of The Indianapolis Star tweets.
  • Lance Stephenson aggravated his left ankle sprain during Thursday’s practice and had to leave the court early, Carlisle said. He’s unsure whether Stephenson will be able to play in the upcoming games this weekend, per Boyd (Twitter link). Stephenson has missed four of the team’s last six games, including two straight.
  • Myles Turner and T.J. McConnell are making progress from their foot and wrist injuries, respectively. Carlisle said Turner was able to do 30 minutes of non-contact work during Thursday’s practice and has been gradually ramping up activity, but there’s still no timeline on his return (Twitter link via Boyd). Carlisle called McConnell week-to-week. Given Indiana’s place in the standings (22-45, fifth-worst in the NBA) and the fact that both players are under contract through at least next season, it wouldn’t be surprising if they’re held out for the remainder of the season.
  • In one of the more bizarre and unfortunate storylines of the 2021/22 season, T.J. Warren continues to be sidelined with a stress fracture in his left foot. He hasn’t played at all this season after playing just four games last season, originally suffering the injury in December of 2020. Carlisle said there was “no update on T.J Warren” when asked about his status by James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). Warren will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Players Who Have Spent The Most Time This Season On 10-Day Deals

It has been a record-setting season for the 10-day contract, which got more use than ever this winter as teams missing players due to COVID-19 scrambled to add multiple replacements at a time using the league’s newly-updated hardship provision.

By our count, an unprecedented 118 players have signed at least a single 10-day deal this season, and many of those players received more than one. Because hardship deals didn’t count toward the usual limit of two 10-day contracts per season with a single team, a handful of players even inked three or four 10-day pacts with the same team.

While no players were able to match or exceed the NBA’s rookie minimum salary on 10-day deals alone, a handful of players signed so many 10-day contracts that they earned a salary comparable to a two-way player.

[RELATED: Salaries For 10-Day Contracts In 2021/22]

With the help of our 10-day contract tracker, here’s a look at some of the players that have spent the most time this season on 10-day deals:


Chris Silva

  • Total 10-day contracts: 5
  • Days spent on 10-day contracts: 50
  • Teams: Heat (x4), Timberwolves
  • Total earnings on 10-day contracts: $479,650

One of two players who has signed four 10-day contracts with the same team this season, Silva might not be done yet — all four of his 10-day deals with the Heat were completed using the hardship provision, which means he could still sign one or two more standard 10-days with the team before the end of the season. Miami has an open roster spot, so it’s not out of the question.

Even if he doesn’t sign another 10-day contract this season, Silva’s earnings have already exceeded the base salary for a player on a two-way deal ($462,629).

Lance Stephenson

  • Total 10-day contracts: 5
  • Days spent on 10-day contracts: 43
  • Teams: Pacers (x4), Hawks
  • Total earnings on 10-day contracts: $690,095

One of Stephenson’s 10-day hardship deals with the Pacers was terminated after just three days so that he could sign a standard 10-day contract in order to remain on the active roster. As a result, he didn’t spend quite as many days as Silva as a 10-day player this season.

Still, Stephenson is one of just two players to have signed five 10-day contracts this year, and no player has earned more money via 10-day deals than he has this season. Stephenson also parlayed those four short-term commitments from Indiana into a rest-of-season deal.


Stanley Johnson

  • Total 10-day contracts: 4
  • Days spent on 10-day contracts: 40
  • Teams: Lakers (x3), Bulls
  • Total earnings on 10-day contracts: $480,332

Danuel House

  • Total 10-day contracts: 4
  • Days spent on 10-day contracts: 40
  • Teams: Jazz (x3), Knicks
  • Total earnings on 10-day contracts: $445,828

Wenyen Gabriel

  • Total 10-day contracts: 4
  • Days spent on 10-day contracts: 40
  • Teams: Clippers (x2), Nets, Pelicans
  • Total earnings on 10-day contracts: $383,720

There are five NBA players who have signed at least four 10-day contracts so far this season, with Johnson, House, and Gabriel joining Silva and Stephenson.

Johnson and House took very similar paths. Both players signed a single hardship 10-day contract with one team in December (the Bulls for Johnson and the Knicks for House), but didn’t get a chance to make a real impression for that team — Johnson was almost immediately placed in the COVID-19 protocols himself, while House logged just three total minutes for New York. Both players subsequently caught on with new clubs, signing a hardship 10-day contract and then a pair of standard 10-days before finalizing a full-season agreement.

Gabriel, meanwhile, has bounced around the NBA a little more this season, signing a total of four 10-day hardship deals with three separate teams. He didn’t earn a rest-of-season commitment from any of them, but eventually landed with the Lakers on a two-way contract.


Players who have signed three 10-day contracts this season:

* Chriss, Cousins, Diakite, and Jackson each had one of their 10-day contracts terminated early, so they’ve technically spent fewer than 30 days on 10-day deals this season.

^ The third 10-day contracts for Frazier, Thomas, and Wilson are still active.

# Highsmith’s third 10-day contract is still active. Additionally, his second deal was technically an 11-day contract since it ran through the All-Star break and needed to cover a minimum of three games.

Central Notes: Taylor, Stephenson, Cunningham, Bucks

Pacers rookie swingman Terry Taylor recorded career highs of 24 points and 16 rebounds in 37 minutes of action on Wednesday. Taylor, a two-way player who earned a spot on the roster after going undrafted, may be forcing his way into the team’s future plans, according to James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. Taylor played out of position against the Magic as a very undersized center with Indiana’s frontcourt depleted by injuries.

“He was tremendous,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s got a real good feel for the game. He knows who he is. He knows his strengths, he plays to them. He’s a very unique player. He’s worked extremely hard to get this opportunity to be in the NBA and have a chance to get minutes and he’s making the most of it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The cap hit that the Pacers will take by signing Lance Stephenson to a rest-of-the-season contract is $642,729, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. Stephenson will make $924,730. The signing leaves Indiana $1.4MM below the luxury tax threshold but the team could get $1.3MM in tax relief if Domantas Sabonis is not selected as an All-Star replacement. He wasn’t among the initial group of Eastern Conference reserves announced on Thursday.
  • Top pick Cade Cunningham missed the Pistons’ home game against Minnesota on Thursday, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets. Cunningham suffered a hip pointer in a loss to New Orleans on Tuesday. He’s questionable to play against Boston on Friday.
  • The Athletic’s Eric Nehm takes a look at potential trades for the Bucks before next week’s deadline and possible buyout acquisitions after the deadline passes.

Lance Stephenson Signs With Pacers For Rest Of Season

FEBRUARY 3: Stephenson has signed with the Pacers for the rest of the season, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files and Stephenson’s agency, Priority Sports (Twitter links). Agness confirms (via Twitter) that the deal won’t cover multiple seasons, so the veteran swingman will be a free agent this summer.


FEBRUARY 2: The Pacers will sign Lance Stephenson for the remainder of the season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Stephenson’s latest 10-day contract expired on Wednesday night.

Stephenson came to Indiana at the beginning of January on a pair of 10-day hardship deals while the team dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak. When those expired, he signed two standard 10-day contracts. In total, he has appeared in 17 games, averaging 9.4 points and 4.2 assists per night.

Stephenson isn’t eligible to sign another standard 10-day deal with the team this season. Marc Stein of Substack notes that he could have inked another hardship contract as long as Domantas Sabonis remains in the league’s health and safety protocols (Twitter link). However, if Sabonis were to exit before the 10 days are up, Stephenson would be ineligible to play.

The Pacers have known for some time that they were going to sign Stephenson for the rest of the season, Stein tweets. There has been discussion about keeping a roster spot open for added flexibility heading into next Thursday’s trade deadline, so we’ll have to wait to see when Stephenson’s contract becomes official.

Pacers Sign Lance Stephenson To Fourth 10-Day Contract

The Pacers have signed Lance Stephenson to a second standard 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. It’s Stephenson’s fourth overall 10-day deal with Indiana this season, since he also inked two hardship contracts with the club.

Stephenson, 31, quickly became a regular rotation player for the Pacers after first rejoining the organization on January 1. He has appeared in 11 games so far, averaging 9.5 PPG, 3.6 APG, and 2.5 RPG on .462/.281/.800 shooting in 19.0 minutes per contest.

There was an expectation at one point earlier this month that Indiana would lock up Stephenson for the rest of the season, but the team has opted to continue the relationship 10 days at a time for now. That allows the Pacers to remain flexible with their roster ahead of the February 10 trade deadline.

A player typically isn’t allowed to sign more than two 10-day contracts with the same team in a given league year, but that restriction only applies to standard 10-day agreements, not to those completed using a COVID-related hardship exception.

While several players have signed three 10-day deals with the same club so far this season, Stephenson is the first to get a fourth. He signed hardship contracts on January 1 and January 11, then completed a new standard 10-day deal on January 14 so that he could remain active when the Pacers no longer had any players in the health and safety protocols — that contract expired on Sunday night.

Because this is Stephenson’s second standard 10-day deal, the Pacers will face a decision on his future soon. Assuming Indiana doesn’t have any players in the protocols when his new contract expires next week, Stephenson would have to be signed for the rest of the season or let go.

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Cunningham, Garza, Stephenson

The Cavaliers‘ improved play this season has put them in position to be unhappy after a win, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Victories have been rare in Cleveland over the past three seasons, but with the Cavs in fifth place in the East at 28-19, coach J.B. Bickerstaff is stressing the importance of a strong performance every night.

That’s why he was upset Saturday after watching his team struggle to put away the Thunder. Bickerstaff was displeased over a lack of effort and an offense that produced 23 turnovers and only 22 assists.

“It’s an understanding of the bigger picture of what we’re trying to get done and the seriousness of every game for us and what it means,” he said. “That’s part of our growth and maturation. There’s games like this where if you lose these games, you’re looking back in April and they matter.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Head coach Dwane Casey wants to take some of the ball-handling duties away from Cade Cunningham, who is running the offense and handling much of the scoring for the short-handed Pistons, per Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Injuries to Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk and Killian Hayes have resulted in Cunningham taking on a larger-than-expected share of the offense. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting him off the ball,” Casey said. “Find another ballhandler. When we get Kelly (Olynyk) back, get his time up as a point five, allowing Cade to play off the ball a little more and that’ll take the pressure off Cade, because to bring the ball down the floor, create his own shot, that’s too much.”
  • Pistons rookie center Luka Garza has cleared the health and safety protocols and is focused on reconditioning so he can start playing again, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
  • The Pacers have to make a decision on Lance Stephenson, whose 10-day contract expires tonight, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Stephenson joined the team under the hardship provision at the start of January, but because all of Indiana’s players cleared protocols by the time that deal expired, he had to sign a standard 10-day contract. The Pacers have the options of giving him another 10-day deal or signing him for the rest of the season. He has averaged 9.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 11 games.