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Paul George says his uncertainty about whether he wanted Lance Stephenson back was ‘taken way out of context’

Jun 28, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game One Getty Images

Lance Stephenson was tremendous for the Pacers in the first half of the season, becoming a nightly triple-double threat who played under control and within his team’s system.

The playoffs, however — especially in the series against LeBron James and the Miami Heat — were another story entirely.

Stephenson turned into a wildcard who resorted to non-basketball tactics to try to rattle his opponent. He blew in the ear of LeBron James, and smacked him in the face during a dead ball situation, as well. Pacers president Larry Bird condemned his actions, and head coach Frank Vogel similarly did the same.

Once the series was finished, Paul George was asked directly if he wanted Stephenson back next season, considering he was entering the summer as an unrestricted free agent. George paused, and said “I don’t know” before elaborating a bit further with a more politically correct answer.

Now that a couple of months have passed, George has changed his tune, and says he now would welcome Stephenson back with open arms.

From (via HoopsHype):

George also clarified confusion over his infamous “I don’t know” answer when asked after the Game 6 loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals if he’d like to see Lance Stephenson return as a free agent.

“I think that was taken way out of context,” George said. “Obviously, me and Lance have been here four years together. I would love to continue to keep playing with Lance. When I said ‘I don’t know,’ I was speaking on what he’s going to do. I don’t know what he’s going to do, I don’t know what our front office is going to do and at the end of the day that’s my decision. I went through (contract talks), it was tough, but I would love to see No. 1 back here in a Pacers uniform.”

It’s easy for George to say that now, but there was nothing that was taken out of context. His true feelings were evident immediately following his team’s elimination, which were clearly that Stephenson’s clown act had worn thin, and things needed to be sorted out before he absolutely could be certain that he wanted him back next season.

The problem for the Pacers is that they’re maxed out from a salary cap perspective, so there isn’t another direction to go in trying to sign a replacement for what Stephenson will cost. The most likely scenario will be Indiana paying Stephenson in free agency, and then praying he has a normal start to the season which could up his value in trade before the deadline passes.

If they decide to keep him, there’s a real risk that his erratic behavior could re-emerge at the worst possible time.

  1. motobus - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    It really was.

  2. sportsnut101 - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Dont want him back at 10 mill a yr he cant shoot yet plays wild at times
    But for 4yr 26 mill sure

    • lewisvelazquez915 - Jun 28, 2014 at 8:56 PM

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded Lance for Lowry

  3. professoressadiesel - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Holy speculation, Batman.

  4. professoressadiesel - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Speculate much?

  5. rodge1 - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    Stephenson was Paul’s catfish.

  6. kb2408 - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Think before you speak. Paul and Indy “need” what Lance can bring to that team. I think the whole lack of maturity thing is being blown out of proportion. I’ve seen dudes do much more than blow in another dudes ear. Paul, Roy, Vogel were more responsible for Indy’s epic collapse than Lance was. In some of the games I watched Lance and West were often the only Indy players with any passion and heart.

  7. jbeagles23 - Jun 28, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Way to be a leader the Paul George.

  8. eugenesaxe1 - Jun 28, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    His “explanation” explains nothing.
    Own up to what you say or shut up.

    • bball242322 - Jun 30, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      U shut up clown

  9. realfootballfan - Jun 28, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    No it wasn’t. Most of us understand the whole team hates him, lol.

  10. saint1997 - Jun 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    East is turning into the biggest grind it out conference of the future. With Charlotte, Washinton, Indiana, Orlando and the Bulls it’s turning into a tough run!

  11. antistratfordian - Jun 28, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    Uh huh. In statement analysis (“the scientific study of words seeking to discern truth from deception”) you learn that statements are subconsciously put in order of priority. In a job interview, when you’re asked to describe your strengths and weaknesses, the interviewer is listening for what you list first, and what you list last. In a short statement, what is said first is usually the priority.

    So George’s first answer was, “I don’t know.” This was his most honest answer. Everything that followed only moved further and further away from his true feelings.

  12. dexterismyhero - Jun 29, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Geez Pollakoff, go ahead and make some more stupid comments. Or are we taking your writing as out of context?

  13. jkirby317 - Jun 29, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Maybe he should have acted like the other stars of the NBA and pretended he was GM at the press conference (right after the game).

    What he said was accurate… “I don’t know.”

    Does he (anyone in Indiana) want lance at 10-11Mil a year? Nope.

    But for the right price he is awesome and the fans LOVE him.

  14. sportfan2 - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    I’m not sure who they need/want back. The last 2 years the Pacers with players they have now might have shot their wad.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 30, 2014 at 7:33 AM

      I suppose that’s possible, but based on their ages… I don’t think so…

      Now, the Pacers do need a shake up…

      I’d LOVE it if the old Boston Celtic legend, Bird, would talk to another Celtic legend, Paul Pierce and get him to sign with the Pacers as Paul is a free agent and has said he wants to play for another year or two.

      Has he lost a step or three? Yes, but the man KNOWS how to win, is mentally tough, is a champion and could really help out the locker room for the Pacers.

      He’d be the voice of reason, experience. He’s a future HOF who has been to where they want to go.

      Go get em Mr. Bird… Paul Pierce would be great for Lance…

  15. tmdill18 - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Lance is an immature knucklehead. He has not proven that he can control his emotions and focus on winning. It wasn’t only the playoffs – he was a clown much of the season. He always has some BS going after the whistle. Running his mouth or running his shoulder or chest into someone after a play and acting like he did nothing. He’s trouble. That said, an out of shape Hibbert was the biggest disappointment of the season. Roy should watch the Spur-Heat games twice a day. Watch how the ball moves, Roy. You should be option #4, not option #1 like you think.

    • sportfan2 - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:29 PM

      When it comes to scoring the Pacers really don’t have a lot of “options”, even with George. In there lays much of their problems.

  16. bball242322 - Jun 30, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Pacers will be right back to the Eastern Conference Finals this year if they re-sign Lance. lets hope they can knock off Miami this year

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