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Report: Charlotte Hornets to sign Lance Stephenson to three-year contract

Jul 16, 2014, 6:14 AM EDT

UPDATE 11:11 am: Lance Stephenson‘s representative Alberto Ebanks released this statement to the Indy Star about the decision, which makes it seem it was less about the money and more about the years.

“Lance is forever grateful for all the love he’s received from Pacers fans. He is especially grateful to his teammates, Frank Vogel, Herb Simon. the Pacers management and, most of all, Larry Bird. While we tried our best to come to the best possible terms for both sides there was not sufficient flexibility in the terms of the contract, particularly the length of the contract. Reports throughout the negotiation process with Indiana have often strayed from the truth but suffice it to say that it was less about the money. Lance will miss the city, the team and the mentor who helped transform him into the dynamic player he has become. He looks forward to making a strong contribution and beginning a new chapter with the Charlotte Hornets.”

His teammates were not thrilled to hear the news they lost one of their team’s best players.

6:14 am: Michael Jordan’s team had built up a nice foundation in the East last season, but they needed to become more dynamic on offense to take the next step.

They just did that.

Or at least took a gamble on it — and if you’re in Charlotte you need to take a few gambles to bring in stars.

The Charlotte Hornets have landed the best free agent still on the market in Lance Stephenson, reaching a three-year deal with the unrestricted free agent from Indiana. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer broke the story basically in the middle of the night (early Wednesday morning, to be specific).

Other reports say this works out to three years, $27 million total (if the team picks up that third year). That is more per year than the five-year, $44 million offer Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers threw at Stephenson. For Stephenson this new deal lacks the security or guaranteed money of the Indiana offer, but he had felt insulted by what he thought was a low-ball offer from the Pacers and was looking for someone else to step up. He found it. Sort of.

For Charlotte, they limit their exposure to the talented but immature Stephenson by keeping this a two-year deal if they don’t pick up the option.

This is a great fit on the court for the Hornets, who count on Kemba Walker at the point to create offense and Al Jefferson in the paint to put up numbers. Stephenson both brings another shot creator and a good defender to a team that made the playoffs last season based on its defense.

Stephenson averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game last season and when on can both can create shots for himself and others with his attacking, aggressive style. He doesn’t tend to do it efficiently all the time and that aggressive style can turn wild and reckless. Then there’s also the guy that blows in LeBron James’ ear.

If he matures on the court, this could be the steal of free agency. If not, the Hornets can get out of this deal early.

The Pacers, already over the salary cap, are going to have a hard time replacing Stephenson’s shot creation. That was an at times stagnant offense that just got much more so. Larry Bird has some real work to do now.

120 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. capspats - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Good signing, could pay off for Charlotte. Lance will be 26 at the end if Charlotte picks up the option, so he could go for a big contract then if he keeps improving

    • cbking05 - Jul 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      I like this comment…true thoughts

  2. cantonbound13 - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    Charlotte’s offer blew Lance over. Thank you, Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

    • sonnysuave - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      Lol! Nice one! :-)

  3. sisisisisisisi - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    Big loss for the Pacers no doubt, he’s also a great fantasy player for many. Lance is being misunderstood here, he wanted a short term deal all along. He would have taken a 2-year $20 million from the Mavs had the Parsons deal fell through, the Pacers had also offered him less on a short term deal. Taking a high reward gamble, believing that he can make a lot more in 3 years, does not make Lance an idiot.

  4. 12444uggg - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    The Pacers run at the ECF is over. This was a mistake for both parties.

  5. conradtwin1 - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    This is a good signing by Charlotte they could be a top 5 team in the East for sure they are better then Brooklyn and the Heat for sure but not the Bulls or Pacers or maybe the Cavs?

    • reesesteel23 - Jul 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Lol. I know they lost Lebron but in what universe Kemba walker, al Jefferson and lance Stephenson better than Dwade, Chris bosh, luol deng. Are you a betting man?

      • 00maltliquor - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:14 PM

        I’m a betting man. I’m willing to bet CHA will be a higher seed then MIA. It’s not inconceivable.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Charlotte has depth this year; we’ll be better than the Heat. Kemba Walker’s clutchness is a well kept secret in the NBA… but everybody’s about to find out.

    • mienkmistry - Jul 16, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      There’s also Raptors and Wizards, they will be one of the lower seeds

    • tved12 - Jul 16, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      Maybe the Cavs? Really?

  6. johnc44 - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    If the Pacers wanted Lance they would`ve signed him.He came back asking about a 2 or 3 year deal and they offered even less.If it were just about talent he would`ve gotten more than Parsons or Hayward.He is a MAJOR headache.Everyone on the outside watching highlights sees the talent but if you follow the team he was the main reason for the collapse.Once he didn`t make the All Star team he started playing for stats to get paid.Now he signs a short deal saying he`ll be an all star and get a max deal then.
    If Charlotte fans think he`ll care more about winning and less about stats there good luck.The fact that no team was willing to pay him more than that when a Marvin Williams gets 7m or Channing Frye gets 8m should tell you all you need to know about Lance.The real winners here are the bars in Charlotte.

  7. realfootballfan - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Well, that one came out of nowhere. Houston and Dallas should have been all over getting him, especially Houston considering the Parsons debacle.

  8. realfootballfan - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Btw, the contract money is pretty much the same as the Indiana outside of a few $100k or so except it’s a shorter one. Or am I not doing math correctly, lol? Maybe Lance is waiting for that TV money like LeBron, lol.

    • kinggw - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      He’s 23. He would’ve be stupid to take the deal the Pacers were offering. Bird tried to use the way the season ended as leverage to lock Stephenson into a Pacers friendly deal.

      The East is wide open and the Pacers, with Lance, would’ve had a good a chance as anyone to come out the East. With no way to replace Stephenson’s scoring and energy, they fall to the second tier of the East. Nice signing by the Hornets, huge blunder by Indy.

  9. zackd2 - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Does blowing in Lebron’s ear reduces his points and rebound at all? Or is it automatically -2 off the almighty PER?

    • antistratfordian - Jul 16, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      No. Just standing next to LeBron raises your PER.

      • savvybynature - Jul 16, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Or, in Anti’s case, it raises something else that starts with a P and an E

      • antistratfordian - Jul 16, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        Yes, my pertinacity.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        Fantastic banter! Don’t stop now, boys.

  10. jkpantheryou - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    This is the best possible contract that Hornets could have gotten Lance at. They can get Bird rights on the guy if he’s balling out or drop him after two if he’s acting up. Something tells, me with the new CBA and higher cap looming, that Lance is going to ball out for the next three seasons.

    Charlotte is certainly positioning themselves to be contenders in the coming years. Jefferson, Stephenson, Kemba, MKG, Williams. At the very least that is a stacked defensive starting five with the possibility of being very dynamic on offense.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Most of us are pretty excited about the team right now, especially with the return of Hugo the Hornet and our team history. Now if we got Boozer on an amnesty bid we’ll be really psyched.

  11. tcclark - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    anyone else worried about the combination of lance stephenson and pj hairston? Combining immaturity and a criminal background don’t usually work out. think Gilbert arenas and javaris crittenton.

    • handsomerob86 - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      The comparison just gave me shivers, mainly because its true. Your right, this could work out real bad…

    • bdachan12 - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      Don’t they both have a criminal background? LOL

    • rrhoe - Jul 16, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Lance Stevenson and P.J. “Can’t Get Right” Hairston,tcclark,that was the first thing that crossed my mind when I read this…….

    • im2gr84u2h8on - Jul 16, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Guns are legal in Charlotte, though, so it will be fine.

  12. lazegowizfan95 - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    If I’m a Pacers fan I want Eric Bledsoe it’s like everyone forgot about him Bledsoe and Paul George would be a fun duo to watch and play with in 2k15 lol. I really think they should trade George Hill his time there is done imo he could get you a borderline starting 2 like Eric Gordan, O.J Mayo.

  13. harshedmellow - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    Weird. So he takes 3 @ 9 per, with only 2 years guaranteed, but felt insulted by 5 @ like 8.9 mil per?

    Gotta more to the story….

    • mienkmistry - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      highly suspicious maybe gunning for the max contract in 3 years time

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      Lance wanted a Parsons/G.Hayward type contract for $14+ million a year. When the offers didn’t come I think he decided to get a shorter contract so he can prove himself worthy of a max deal over the next couple years. Pacers offered 5 years/$44 million which seems like a very team friendly deal since Lance could very well garner some $15 mil/year deals in 3 years.

  14. blurocpurp - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    i absolutely LOVE this signing. Hornets will have a nice team next year. I really wish Melo woulda went to the hornets! Ppl think its crazy but if Melo went to hornets they would win the east!

    • dablakdrphil - Jul 16, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      Yeah in 2k15 they would win the East Lol.

    • mienkmistry - Jul 17, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      instead of getting swept out of the playoffs, they will lose 4-1

  15. coldwater32301 - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    The best place where Lance can be Lance… and watch him grow…Indeed…

  16. ProBasketballPundit - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    I know I’m late with this but allow me to express my total approval of this deal.

    Last year, Al Jefferson become the biggest free agent signing in Bobcats history and now I think Lance might be the biggest FA signing in Hornets history. The only other thing I could possibly ask of this offseason is a little depth at power forward or center. Hopefully we make a bid for Boozer.

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