Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson Joining Iowa Wolves

Former NBA guard/forward Lance Stephenson is signing an NBA G League contract to play for the Timberwolves‘ affiliate team in Iowa, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Iowa confirmed in a press release that it has acquired Stephenson’s returning player rights from the Grand Rapids Gold (Denver’s affiliate) in exchange for the rights to Craig Randall II.

Stephenson hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since April 2022, when he finished out the 2021/22 season with the Pacers. The 33-year-old has played for eight different teams in parts of 10 seasons over the course of his career, primarily with Indiana. He also had a brief stint with Minnesota back in ’16/17.

In 554 regular season games, including 200 starts (22.9 MPG), Stephenson holds career averages of 8.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 2.9 APG on .445/.314/.694 shooting. The former second-round pick has also played professionally in China and — most recently — Puerto Rico.

Stephenson was born in Brooklyn and he said over the summer he was hoping to make an NBA comeback with the Knicks or Nets, but a contract never came to fruition. As Scotto notes, the Timberwolves have an open roster spot, and evidently Stephenson is hoping to make a strong impression on the franchise by playing with Iowa.

Stephenson will remain an unrestricted free agent even after he joins the Iowa Wolves, as NBA contracts take precedence over NBAGL deals.

Lance Stephenson Wants To Play For Knicks Or Nets

Lance Stephenson not only plans to make an NBA comeback — he knows where he’d prefer to play.

“I think it is time for a New York team. I want to play for the Nets or the Knicks, either one would do,” Stephenson told the New York Post’s Tashara Jones.

The 32-year-old Stephenson, who has played 554 regular-season games, would actually be making a second comeback if an NBA team takes a chance on him. He didn’t play in the league during the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, then saw action in six games with the Hawks and 40 with the Pacers in ’21/22.

Stephenson was unable to land an NBA contract last season. He wound up Puerto Rico during the spring with Leones de Ponce and appeared in four games with that club.

“I definitely miss the NBA now that I am playing in Puerto Rico. I did not want to leave. So my goal right now is to get back in there and show them that I am born ready,” he said.

Stephenson began his career with Indiana and had three stints with the organization. In the 40 games he played for the Pacers two seasons ago, he averaged 9.3 points and 3.9 assists in 18.6 minutes. He underwent surgery on his right knee after that season.

Stephenson was born in Brooklyn but he’s never played for either of the New York teams. He’s hoping to change that.

“I feel like I did enough for people to remember me and know me as one of the top players that played in New York,” he said. “I feel like I am just New York.”

International Notes: Anderson, Embiid, Bacon, Stephenson

Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson is considered likely to be naturalized in time to play for the Chinese national team during this summer’s World Cup, sources tell Mike Chan of The South China Morning Post.

As Chan writes, Anderson’s maternal great-grandfather was born in China, making him one-eighth Chinese. Last summer, Anderson and his mother reconnected with some of their long-lost Chinese relatives in a village in Shenzhen.

There’s a catch, however: According to Chinese law, Anderson would have to renounce his United States citizenship to become naturalized in China, as the country doesn’t allow dual citizenship. Anderson did not respond to Chan’s request for comment and was noncommittal about his decision at the end of the season.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • On the other hand, it seems unlikely that Sixers center Joel Embiid will compete in the 2023 World Cup, at least for France, according to French outlet L’Equipe. “Joel hasn’t made a decision, but it seems difficult for him to be able to play this summer,” French national team head coach Vincent Collet said (hat tip to Eurohoops). “But that does not call into question the fact that he can play with us next year. He is going to get married this summer, and it really falls into the wrong period, during the preparation of all the teams.” As Eurohoops notes, Embiid is a citizen of three different countries: his native Cameroon, France, and the U.S.
  • Panathinaikos, a Greek club that competes in the EuroLeague, is expected to part ways with former NBA player Dwayne Bacon after he was suspended two games for disciplinary reasons, according to Stavros Barbarousis of Eurohoops (Twitter link). Bacon, 27, played for AS Monaco last season. The former second-round pick’s last NBA campaign was in 2020/21 with Orlando.
  • Veteran guard Lance Stephenson has signed with Puerto Rican side Leones de Ponce, the team announced in a press release. Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files was the first to report the news. Stephenson finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and four assists in his debut Friday night, Agness writes. The 32-year-old played 46 games for the Hawks and Pacers last season, but an NBA opportunity for ’22/23 didn’t materialize.

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 (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

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 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.