Skip to content

Larry Bird offers lame rationale for losing Lance Stephenson

Jul 21, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

Lance Stephenson turned down the Pacers’ five-year, $44 million contract offer.

Instead, he accepted just $18 million guaranteed over two years from the Hornets.

Did Stephenson lose free agency? Not necessarily.

[MORE: Summer League review]

He’ll earn more per year in Charlotte than he would have in Indiana, $9 million vs. $8.8 million, and he’ll hit free agency again sooner. (Stephenson also has a $9,405,000 team option in the contract’s third year, according to ShamSports.com.)

Stephenson is essentially betting on himself, that he’ll command a bigger contract in three years than he would have gotten by locking in long-term with the Pacers now.

That’s a risk, but a defensible one. Stephenson is a great fit in Charlotte, where Steve Clifford values defense and needs Stephenson’s offensive firepower. And the salary cap might skyrocket with a new television deal. All contracts might be substantially larger in 2017.

[RELATED: Top seven free agents still on market]

But left in the dust, Larry Bird is trying to spin his version of events.

Bob Kravitz of USA Today:

Stephenson’s people wanted more, wanted $12 million to $14 million from the Pacers, according to the team’s president. They were looking for a $55 million contract. When the offer came in at $44 million, they scoffed.

“I really feel bad about losing (Lance Stephenson) him,” (Larry) Bird said. “I hope it doesn’t interfere with our relationship. But I did what I could possibly do to keep him here. Even if he didn’t have any other offers, I was committed to giving him that $44 million because I believe in the kid. If you look at our roster, we have five or six guys in the last year of their deals, plus David (West) and Roy (Hibbert) can opt out, so don’t you think I wanted to keep Lance and Paul (George) locked into long-term deals?”

Just read this part again: “Even if he didn’t have any other offers, I was committed to giving him that $44 million because I believe in the kid.”

Bird did a lot for Stephenson, drafting him and helping him grow up. Without Bird, Stephenson might be out of the NBA right now.

But committing to $44 million because you believe in him? Give me a break.

Bird offered $44 million, because he believed that provided the Pacers value within their limitations (likely remaining under the luxury tax). If he believed Stephenson’s best offer would be a minimum contract, Bird sure wasn’t offering Stephenson $44 million.

No matter how the Pacers try to come out smelling like roses, they declined to offer Stephenson enough money to keep him. Even if Bird thought $44 million over five years was enough, it wasn’t.

Stephenson wanted a bigger contract or flexibility go get one soon. Bird wouldn’t or couldn’t deliver that, so Stephenson left. It’s that simple.

Spare me the spin about Bird believing in Stephenson.

Stephenson believed in himself more than Bird believed in him, and that’s why the Hornets have a new guard. Maybe Stephenson will regret that, but he didn’t owe Bird re-signing in Indiana because that $44 million was a kind act out of the goodness of Bird’s heart.

Bird was playing the game – just like Stephenson did.

 

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Pistons signing Eric Griffin

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:07 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Griffin will give Pistons 19 players, 17 with guaranteed salaries

  2. LeBron James: Championship not a requirement of a great team

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:07 PM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    LeBron indicates 1999-00 Trail Blazers were great, implies something about his own career

  3. Erik Spoelstra: Heat’s starting lineup needs time before it’ll succeed

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside look pretty good on paper

  4. Wizards expect Tomas Satoransky to join them in summer of 2016

    Sep 1, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT

    FC Barcelona v Olympiacos Piraeus - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Play Off Getty Images

    He’s a 6’7″ combo guard with a lot of potential

  5. Will Miami make a run at Kevin Durant?

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant AP

    Miami is a long shot to land him, but you can bet Pat Riley will have them positioned for a run.

  6. Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson does his imitation of Kobe’s shot

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:19 PM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Lots of pump fakes. Lots and lots of pump fakes.

  7. Kings name Vlade Divac GM, Peja Stojakovic director of player development

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Vlade Divac Vlade Divac

    Stojakovic had been rumored for several weeks to be joining the Kings.

  8. Dwyane Wade playing dodgeball? We’ve got that (VIDEO).

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    wade Getty Images

    Wade would make Patches O’Houlihan proud.

  9. Report: Celtics engaged in contract extension talks with Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    If I were a betting man, I’d expect there’s a better than 50/50 chance a Zeller deal gets done.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2736)
  2. K. Irving (2208)
  3. A. Davis (1873)
  4. K. Bryant (1525)
  5. L. James (1442)
  1. K. Durant (1284)
  2. T. Thompson (1270)
  3. B. Jennings (1223)
  4. M. Leonard (1146)
  5. A. Aminu (1116)