Skip to content

Larry Bird offers lame rationale for losing Lance Stephenson

Jul 21, 2014, 11:05 AM EST

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. Michael Jordan’s message to Kobe Bryant: “Go get Karl”

    Dec 26, 2014, 4:29 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    At 25 points a game it would still take Kobe 182 games to catch Malone. That’s not likely.

  2. Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks: “The fans are dying, we’re dying”

    Dec 26, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Knicks fans are going to need to be patient, something New Yorkers have long been know for. *cough*

  3. Spencer Hawes Christmas Day suit was…. well, you should just see it (VIDEO)

    Dec 26, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Spencer Hawes AP

    Well, you don’t see that every day. Fortunately.

  4. Clippers win ‘nice, boring’ Christmas Day battle with Warriors

    Dec 26, 2014, 2:56 AM EST

    Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers AP

    The flagrant fouls and ejections we’ve come to expect from these teams were non-existent, as L.A. came away with a “signature win” over the league-leading Warriors.

  5. Pau Gasol shines in his first matchup with the Lakers

    Dec 25, 2014, 11:48 PM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    The Bulls blew out the Lakers on Christmas.

  6. Miami fans give LeBron warm welcome, Heat team not so much in upset win

    Dec 25, 2014, 11:31 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade, LeBron James Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

    Wade was brilliant… for a half, anyway. But that was enough.

  7. Kobe Bryant sits out Lakers’ Christmas Day matchup with Bulls

    Dec 25, 2014, 9:24 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls

    Bryant misses his second straight game simply due to a need for rest.

  8. Russell Westbrook inspires Thunder to skid-stopping win over Spurs

    Dec 25, 2014, 6:46 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    With Kevin Durant out, Westbrook puts Oklahoma City on his back, elevates Steven Adams and helps produce 114-106 victory

  9. From Gregg Popovich down, Spurs relying on patience

    Dec 25, 2014, 6:10 PM EST

    San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Scott Brooks: Kevin Durant ‘could not go if he wanted to go’

  10. John Wall looks like All-Star, Knicks look like the Knicks, Wizards cruise to win

    Dec 25, 2014, 4:15 PM EST

    John Wall, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert AP

    Washington was never threatened after the first quarter.

  11. LeBron James, Stephen Curry leading in early All-Star voting returns

    Dec 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    2014 Sears Shooting Stars Competition Getty Images

    Kevin Durant would not start as of right now, but expect that to change once he starts playing again.

Featured video

Who will land Josh Smith?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (9271)
  2. K. Martin (7118)
  3. K. Bryant (7102)
  4. K. Leonard (6840)
  5. C. Bosh (6584)
  1. D. Williams (6541)
  2. T. Jones (6301)
  3. J. Smith (6205)
  4. T. Parker (6135)
  5. D. Rose (6078)