Two-time Pacers guard Lance Stephenson is reportedly in “strong talks” for his third tour of duty with the franchise that drafted him with the No. 40 pick in 2010, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link). Charania notes that nothing is finalized yet.
Stephenson could be a helpful addition to a Pacers team that has been depleted at the wing due to a season-ending knee injuries to Jeremy Lamb and a quadriceps injury suffered by Malcolm Brogdon, who is now week-to-week.
Indiana needs all the help it can get. The Pacers are currently the No. 5 seed in the East, but their 38-25 record puts them just 0.5 games ahead of the No. 6 seed Sixers.
Stephenson is currently signed to the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association, which has postponed all its games amidst the developing coronavirus outbreak. Charania notes that Stephenson will need permission from FIBA and the CBA to leave the Flying Leopards and return to the Pacers.
Stephenson has been working out in the U.S. since January, splitting his time between his hometown of New York City and Indiana in the hopes making an NBA comeback, per Scott Agness of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Along with Paul George, David West, George Hill and Roy Hibbert, the pesky 6’6″ off-guard Stephenson was a core cog on some exciting Pacers teams that pushed the Heat in the playoffs during 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14. The latter two teams battled the Heat in two close Eastern Conference Finals finals contests in 2013 and 2014.
After his initial tenure with the Pacers, Stephenson inked a three-year, $27MM contract with the Hornets instead of a five-year, $44MM deal with Indiana. He then bounced around for stints with the Clippers, Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Pelicans before returning to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2017.
Stephenson last played for the Lakers in a disappointing 2018/19 season, in which he averaged just 16.5 MPG and put up 7.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 2.1 APG.