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Does Paul George want Pacers to bring Lance Stephenson back? “I mean I don’t know.”

May 31, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

That is pretty much the definition of a tepid endorsement.

Lance Stephenson is an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Pacers have to figure out how much to offer him. Stephenson is on top of everyone’s “guys that will get overpaid this summer” list with the feeling some GM will offer him in the ballpark of four years, $40 million. Should that team be the Pacers?

Paul George‘s response after the Pacers were eliminated by the Heat  to if he wants Stephenson back was, well, lukewarm.

“I mean, I don’t know. That’s for (Indiana president) Larry (Bird), (GM) Kevin (Pritchard) to decide. It would be great, we came into this league together. It would be great for us to continue our journey together. He’s played a huge year this whole season and in this postseason. He’s definitely put pressure on us to make decisions going forward with Lance.”

The conundrum for the Pacers is this: With Stephenson Indiana will be pushing up close to the luxury tax line to keep this core together — the one with chemistry issues the second half of the season, the one that clearly is not better than Miami. However, let Stephenson walk and you lose one of the better shot creators on the team — the shortcomings of George Hill and the inability of Roy Hibbert to create shots for himself will be that much more glaring.

There are no easy answers for the Pacers this summer.

But it sure sounds like if Stephenson isn’t back next season Paul George will be okay with that.

  1. loubearkane - May 31, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    NON STORY

    He said it would be great for them to continue together but now it’s about money because is George says adamantly he wants Stephenson back then the Pacers will ask George to take a little less so they can bring him back.

    • buffalowned - May 31, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      He said that to cover up himself saying “I don’t know”. He doesn’t want Lance back. No one on that team likes him it couldn’t be more obvious. Seeing that PG just signed a max deal last summer, the Pacers can’t ask him to take less nor would he be willing to. Lance probably thinks a big contract is coming and maybe some desperate GM will give it to him but I think he’s going to be disappointed when free agency starts.

      • zeedoubleyou - May 31, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Let the poor Pacers fan grieve in peace lol

  2. sportsfan18 - May 31, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Can’t GIVE money back in the NBA… it isn’t like the NFL…

    • loubearkane - May 31, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      Yeah forgot about his max extension wasn’t updated on contracts /cap holds site

  3. frank35sox - May 31, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    Uh, sweet title NBC. Pretty much the definition of out of context. Gotta get those page clicks though.

    • blueintown - May 31, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      …and comments.

  4. frank35sox - May 31, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    @zkeefer: Does Lance return? “I think so. I hope so,” said David West.

  5. davidly - May 31, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Please. He was hedging because he knows Stephenson caught up to him in terms of season to season improvement. PG’s not stupid. He knows that without Stephenson they wouldn’t’ve gotten out of the second round, but wants to publicly declare faith in the team first.

  6. davidly - May 31, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    If he had said, “Absolutely.” and they didn’t re-sign him, you guys ‘d spend next season talking about how bitter George was that Bird they let him walk.

    • antistratfordian - May 31, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      But he didn’t say that. He said he didn’t know if he wanted Stephenson back. It was a surprising answer because you rarely see a player be so hesitant to endorse a teammate in a press conference. Even Kobe and Shaq gave more tactful answers than that in public. It definitely stuck out – so trying to convince people that there was nothing unusual about his response is pointless.

  7. nycalldayz - May 31, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    In reality the Pacers had too many flaws and it showed against Atlanta, Washington and Miami. The pieces on the Pacers don’t match. Roy Hibbert is slow and inconsistent. George Hill is not a PG, but more a combo guard and he’s is not a starter. David West is good, but doesn’t defend consistently for his position. Paul George is a good player, but not a star or superstar, yet. He hasn’t shown that he can be a consistent star like Lebron or even Wade.

    It seems like the Pacers current core has ran it’s course. They’ve lost 3 straight years to the Heat. But this series loss has to be the worst of all. I don’t know how the Pacers can upgrade in the off-season? As far as Lance Stephenson, I had no problem with this antics except for touching Lebron’s face. Now a days with social media and television we’ve become over-sensitive.

    • gostlcards5 - May 31, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      I generally don’t like BS like what Lance did to LeBron. However, LeBron did the same thing to Lance on the previous play, so I wasn’t so bad with it. It wasn’t like he tried to hurt him.

      I honestly didn’t like the flagrant foul on Lance for hitting Cole in the head either, because it happened fast, and he wasn’t trying to hit him, but when you factor out intent, at least I can buy the call.

  8. ravenswhat - May 31, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    This team is good. Great even. But they will never win as long as Lebron in in the NBA. Kinda like when MJ lorded over the league. It’s that simple.

    • redbaronx - May 31, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      @ravenswhat – LeBron and the Heat are nowhere near as good as MJ and the Bulls were. San Antonio nearly beat them last year with Tim Duncan on his last legs and Manu playing like a bum all year. Granted Manu came back for a great year this year, but he’s also pushing retirement.

      The NBA is simply in a down cycle right now. The good teams aren’t that good, though there’s a lot of individual talent. OKC is a great example. Two phenomenal players and a roster of stiffs for the most part except for Ibaka.

      Indiana might never win vs the Heat, but don’t be surprised if the Spurs get to the Finals and beat the Heat this year. The Spurs are better than they were last year, and the Heat supporting cast of vets is a year older and less effective.

      • fanofthegame79 - May 31, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        It’s impossible to compare teams in different eras. That being said, this Heat team is the most dominant team of this era (2010+). They’ve been to four straight NBA Finals (MJ and the Bulls didn’t do that), they won back-to-back titles (Duncan and the Spurs never did that), they had a 27-game win streak (second best in NBA history…something that wasn’t accomplished by MJ, Kobe, Shaq, Duncan, Barkley, Bird, Magic, etc.). I’m sick of the talk about last year – if the Spurs were really better than the Heat, they had the chance to win in game 7. That beautiful shot by Ray Allen was in game 6. Period. You can try to revise history all you want, but the facts remain – this team is historically great.

      • redbaronx - Jun 1, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        @fanofthegame79 – It’s totally possible to compare, and I don’t need stats to compare. If you are old enough to have seen MJ and the Bulls at their peak, it wouldn’t be a discussion.

        Oh, and the only reason the Bulls didn’t make 4 Finals in a row is MJ’s retirement. Otherwise the Bulls probably would have been in the Finals instead of the Knicks in 93/94 when the Bulls minus MJ nearly made the Finals in any case.

        I’m not sure what point you were trying to make about Ray Allen’s “beautiful shot” or what history you think you’re revising, but anyone that ACTUALLY saw the Bulls in their day would not compare the Heat to the Bulls.

        But if you really want to go on stats, here’s one for you: 72-10. The Bulls in a MUCH better East (I don’t think anyone can argue that) dominated. The current version of the East is pathetic. The East is so weak right now, the Pacers and Heat would be the only two teams eligible for the Playoffs in the West. So even by your “Era” standards, the Heat really aren’t that great.

      • fanofthegame79 - May 31, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        By the way, the Spurs team that are supposedly “better than they were last year” were blown out twice on the road, and may not even get to the NBA Finals. Not to mention struggled in the first round against the Mavs. The Heat have lost 3 games this entire post season….the Spurs lost 3 games in the first round.

      • redbaronx - Jun 1, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        @fanofthegame79 – So now a day later do you take back your comments? Probably not. But just to lay this out for you, the Thunder (and the entire West) are DEFINITELY better than the Pacers (and any of the other losing Eastern conference teams) by ANY sane persons measuring stick.

        Now as far as “may not even get to the Finals”? Well that’s done now. Spurs are in. So all you have to do is watch. Watch what happens.

      • redbaronx - Jun 1, 2014 at 5:19 PM

        @fanofthegame79 – I forgot to mention in making my point, that the Spurs closed out OKC last night WITHOUT Parker in the 2nd half. Are you impressed yet???

        Again, don’t be surprised of the Spurs beat the Heat. The Heat aren’t as good as you think they are, and the Spurs nearly exposed that last year.

        In any case, I’m looking forward to this series. The NBA gods have a way of righting wrongs, and since the Spurs should have beaten Miami last year, I expect that the Spurs will get it done this year.

      • zoomy123 - May 31, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        Even if it’s true that Miami isn’t as good as MJ and the Bulls, that’s irrelevant. Historically speaking Miami is just as dominant, especially with respect to the Eastern Conference.

        An almost championship is NOT a championship. People seem to have a really hard time understanding or accepting this. People forget that in Game 6 there was still overtime. And San Antonio was still putting up a fight until Miami had 3 straight possessions where they stopped San Antonio from scoring a single point to end the game.

        As for San Antonio being better than they were last year…this remains to be seen. Kawhi Leonard has certainly progressed but other than that it’s not obvious if San Antonio really is better in any other way. Gary Neal’s duties were simply split between Belinelli & Patty Mills, and while this increases San Antonio’s depth this doesn’t necessarily make them better. But what can’t be disputed is this: Dwyane Wade is now 100% healthy. Miami actually is better than they were last year just by virtue of that fact alone. And while you call Miami’s supporting cast of veterans old and less effective, it certainly didn’t seem that way while they were eviscerating the Indiana Pacer’s defense.

      • nycalldayz - May 31, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        fanofthegame79

        How long did it take u to find that information on NBA.com and basketball-reference?

      • nycalldayz - May 31, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        @fanofthegame79

        How long did it take u to get your info from Basketball-reference?

      • redbaronx - Jun 1, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        @nycalldayz – I think you replied to me buddy instead of fanofthegame79. He probably didn’t get your message.

      • bougin89 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        I totally agree with this comment:

        “The NBA is simply in a down cycle right now. The good teams aren’t that good, though there’s a lot of individual talent.”

        You could strongly attribute that to the Big Three in Miami “teaming up”. It completely destroyed the competitive balance in the East. Now Miami has been coasting through the playoffs the last two years(save for the Pacers last year).

      • redbaronx - Jun 2, 2014 at 5:14 PM

        @bougin89 – I’m glad you got the gist of my comments. Not everyone did.

        The fact is that NBA Champions used to be pretty solid 1 through 12. With the exception of the Spurs and the Pacers, most top tier teams these days are built around a few exceptional stars and roster filler.

        I think you’re right about the Big Three changing the GM thinking of going all out for difference makers, but I also think the other part of that equation is the one and done draft culture. The Tim Duncan/Ray Allen/Paul Pierce/Grant Hill era was chock full of guys that stayed on for 3/4 years and had super long NBA careers, filled out rosters, and had lots of quality throughout the NBA.

        These days guys come in with less than perfectly honed skills which means their confidence isn’t as high as it should be, and a lot of guys are being run out of the NBA quickly. So teams like Miami can get by with old vets because most teams can’t get the firepower of the Big Three, and they can’t accumulate enough 1-12 talent to become a real threat.

        My hats off to Miami for going to four straight Finals, but the reality is that the competition they play is inferior in the East. And they certainly would not have been able to hang with MJ’s Bulls! Particularly not the 96-98 versions. Maybe the 91 to 93 versions since they were lead footed at center (Bill Cartwright), and inferior at point guard (BJ Armstrong). But the 96-98 versions? Ron Harper, MJ, Pippen, Kukoc, Rodman, Steve Kerr, and John Salley? I don’t think so! Pippen on LeBron alone would probably be enough to turn Miami into ordinary!

      • bougin89 - Jun 2, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        Yep, and the 96-98 Bulls three peat team(and even moreso in just 96-97) absolutely went to work every single night. They didn’t have an off switch like the Heat do now.

      • fanofthegame79 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        nycalldayz, not long. The internet is quick like that. I didn’t want to throw empty stats around, so I used actual facts. That can’t be a crime now, can it?

      • fanofthegame79 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        One more for redbaron: I don’t take what I said – I won’t revise like that. The Spurs are a great team and I do respect them. I don’t think they’re unbeatable, by “any sane person’s measuring stick”. This is the first time in their history that they’re making back-to-back Finals appearances. There’s something to be said about that. And I do think the Heat are as good as I think – and better than they were last year. They have more experience (and against this very Spurs team). They have as much depth as they did last year (We lost Mike Miller – I believe that Rashard Lewis can more than make up for that gap). Wade is healthy this year! That was not nearly the case last year (season-long knee issues, and a thigh contusion that was earned in the 7-game series against the Pacers). The Heat will be rested, something that was not the case last year (again, 7-game series against a better Pacers team last year)…I can go on. Aside from the regular season record for the Heat, what makes you think they’re not as good as they were last year?? They’ve had a better playoff run thus far, and overall, look more crisp at this point in the season. Listen, I could make an argument that this series could end for either team in 4, 5, 6 or 7 games; however, I have faith in the Heat and I think they’re going to send Duncan and Popovich into retirement.

      • redbaronx - Jun 2, 2014 at 5:36 PM

        @fan – No doubt Wade is healthy and better this year, but to answer your question, the reasons I don’t think the Heat are as good this year as last year are:

        1) Mike Miller was a heck of a shooter and Rashard Lewis can put up an occasional 3’s at best with limited success. Rashard’s biggest contribution so far has been defense. To me losing Miller is a minus there.
        2) Haslem and Anderson haven’t been quite as active on the boards and the Heat look weaker on defense. Age is definitely catching up to them and that’s a big minus.
        3) Last but not least, it looks like LeBron is becoming more and more of an outlet valve for the times that the Heat aren’t moving the ball. Pop is smart and I’m sure the Spurs are going to do everything they can to put walls of guys in front of LeBron and dare the rest of the Heat to beat them. If that happens, Wade and the rest of the outside shooters need to be shooting well from mid-range out. That’s an iffy proposition.

  9. mnsadsportsfan - May 31, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    They are idiots if they bring him back.

  10. rrhoe - May 31, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    My biggest issue with LS would be how his game seemed to change after the All-Star snub and what would happen in the future if he perceives that he was/is snubbed again.

    • gostlcards5 - May 31, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Exactly.

  11. zeedoubleyou - May 31, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    If Dwyane Wade were asked if he wants LeBron and Bosh back next year, the first words out of his mouth wouldn’t be, “I mean, I don’t know.”

    • time4complaints - May 31, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      Well the Heat is a rare team where the players actually like eachother and chose to play together. However, many great championship teams have had a loose cannon that most of the guys didn’t like. Remember those great Bulls teams with Dennis Rodman? Lance isn’t the problem. Paul George and Roy Hibbert are paid like superstars and neither of them can get it done on the offensive end consistently. No team can afford to invest that type of cap space on guys that can’t be counted on to put up points night in and night out.

    • showtime1911 - May 31, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      He’s got other stuff on his mind. Like his little girl that he had with a stripper that’s about to get paid. He is in no position to make decisions.

      • jimeejohnson - May 31, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        Those showtime Laker teams would beat the Heat in a 7 game series. Those were THE DAYS! The only guys who could dethrone the showtime Lakers were the Pistons and the Celtics.

  12. jzone954 - May 31, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Yes,the Heat are today’s bulls and LBJ is today’s MJ get over it..

    #4 straight finals
    #2nd longest winning streak in NBA history
    # greatest player in the NBA and arguably in history
    #get over it

    • nycalldayz - May 31, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      @jzone954
      Yes, you became a Heat fan in the summer of 2010 get over yourself.
      #4 straight finals due to weak east
      # arguably the greatest player in NBA right now not in the history
      # Can he finish his career first, pls?
      # I’m out

  13. frankyvito - May 31, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Let Lance walk and THROW THE BANK at Kyle Lowry.

    • miamatt - May 31, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      That would be a fascinating swap but the Pacers can only go over the cap for Stephenson, due to the “Bird” rules. Indiana couldn’t make a competitive offer for Lowry, unless both teams (and players) were interested in a dual sign-and-trade.

  14. jzone954 - May 31, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    NYC, you even know what a Larry o Brien trophy looks like?

  15. jzone954 - May 31, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    @nyc I’ve been a fan for a long time , but that’s a silly conversation, may I ask you what exactly constitutes a “real fan”? I enjoyed the the chip we won prior to Lebron and Bosh joining the team, and if the east was so weak why haven’t the Knicks been able to step up to the plate? People weren’t saying how weak the east was when the celtics with their big 3 won there chip? But I mean look, Lebron is arguably at this point coming for that number one spot, and that doesn’t degrade or take away from anyone else on that mountain such as MJ or Kobe or whomever it may be. And to be quite honest the only basketball worth a damn of watching out of newyork you’ll catch at Rucker park.

  16. bigmeechy74 - May 31, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    haha stephenson was basically giving an audition for the biggest moment of his life. His free agent deal. But he couldn’t resist his nature of being a damn clown

  17. campcouch - May 31, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    I see Lance as a Knick.

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