Apr 24, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT
Lance Stephenson is just 23, is an explosive guard who averaged 13.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game this season playing for a team with one of the best records in the NBA.
Lance Stephenson is also an unrestricted free agent this summer.
That would often mean a big payday is coming… but it might not be as big as Stephenson wants. What he wants is a four-year, eight-digits a year contract.
Problem is a guy that got (and deserved) some of the blame for the Pacers stumbles the second half of the season, plus this is a guy who had a couple run-ins with teammates, the latest of which was Evan Turner the night before the playoffs. That is hurting his value on the market, reports Sean Deveney at The Sporting News.
One league executive said the problems that have arisen—the public ones, remember, not the behind-the-scenes ones—with Stephenson will cut deep into his value on the free-agent market, and that a deal worth $7 million-$8 million per year is more likely to be Stephenson’s range now.
“You hear things, for sure,” one general manager told Sporting News this week. “Stephenson is a guy who has talent, but if you have a young team and you’re building up a culture, you have to consider that before you pursue a guy who might affect your locker room negatively. You have to do your due diligence. But that sort of thing is going to affect the market for him, for sure. If a guy has issues, you better know about them and you think twice about going after him.”
In what is a down free agent summer, some teams are going to make a run at Stephenson, maybe just not as hard a run as he wants.
Indiana also likely tries to keep him.
Then it will all come down to money. With older players there are discussions of fit and rings, but with young players such as Stephenson (a guy who made only $1 million this season, and that was the most in his career) he is going to take the Benjamins. All of them he can get.
It just may not be as many as he thinks he’s going to get.