Lance Stephenson started all 19 playoff games for the Pacers last season during a run that got them to within one game of advancing to the NBA Finals.
Indiana reloaded in the offseason with a couple of nice free agent acquisitions, however, and with Danny Granger returning from injury, Stephenson may be better suited as a reserve while coming off the bench.
In a recent interview after practicing for the Knox Indy Pro-Am Summer League, Stephenson said he’d have no problem shifting his role if that’s what the team will require.
Q: Despite having an outstanding season, there’s been a lot of speculation you may go back to coming off the bench this season, especially if Danny Granger is healthy and ready. Would you be OK with that?
A: I’m just coming in to play hard. Whatever coach (Frank Vogel) decides to do, I think it’s a great decision. Me coming off the bench, Danny coming off the bench, either way, we’re deep. Whatever helps the team, that’s what I want to do.
In addition to Granger coming back, the Pacers added Luis Scola and Chris Copeland to fortify their bench, which (along with the high number of turnovers) was the main weakness the team showed in pushing the eventual champion Heat to seven games during the Eastern Conference Finals.
It’s the right answer from Stephenson, who at just 22 years old has already proven to be a volatile presence on this up-and-coming Pacers squad — and we mean that as a compliment, in the best way possible.