Lance Stephenson

How much can the Pacers offer Lance Stephenson?


Lance Stephenson’ days with the Pacers might be numbered.

Indiana reportedly offered Stephenson a five-year, $44 million contract. His response? Look around for a better deal.

In turn, the Pacers have gone on a spending spree that prevents them from still offering Stephenson even that. They:

Because Miles received the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, the Pacers face a hard cap this season – projected to be $81 million.

To fit under the hard cap, the largest contract Indiana could offer Stephenson is five years, $43,708,217.

But few think the Pacers would go that far. The luxury tax line – projected to be $77 million – is likely their limit.

To stay out of the tax, Indiana could offer Stephenson just five years, $20,708,217.

I don’t think that’s going to cut it for a 23-year-old near-All-Star. Stephenson averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game this season. The only other players who hit 13-7-4 in the last 20 years at such a young age – Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Chris Webber, Tracy McGrady, Lamar Odom, Paul George, Grant Hill and Juwan Howard – all received massive paydays.

Questions about Stephenson’s maturity will lower his offers, but not all the way down to barely above $4 million per year.

If the Pacers – who have few resources to replace him if he walks – want to keep Stephenson, they must trim salary. They have three reasonable unilateral options to do that:

  • Waiving Donald Sloan, whose salary is fully unguaranteed
  • Waiving Luis Scola, whose salary is partially guaranteed
  • Waiving and stretching Ian Mahinmi, who’s still owed $8 million the next two years and would therefore have a cap hit of $1.6 million each of the net five years

Depending on which player(s), Indiana wants to waive, here’s how much money Stephenson could make on a five-year contract:

Waive Stephenson’s potential five-year salary keeping Pacers under tax
Sloan $26,160,154
Mahinmi $34,508,217
Scola $37,541,647
Sloan+Mahinmi $34,697,507
Sloan+Scola $37,730,937
Scola+Mahinmi $46,078,999
All Three $46,268,289

The luxury tax is not assessed until the final day of the regular season. Indiana could always sign Stephenson and trim salary later, though that plan would obviously be risky.

The Pacers are clearly seeking a big trade, and though it might prove difficult, they might trim payroll in such a deal. Maybe Larry Bird has something up his sleeve.

But unless he does or the market for Stephenson is cooler than expected, Indiana is running out of room for Stephenson beneath the tax line.

Kobe Bryant “not really worried” about his shooting after 1-of-14 night

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Sometimes a picture can tell the story better than words.

That’s why above you can see all of Kobe Bryant‘s shot attempts against the Warriors Tuesday, a night where he went 1-of-14 from the floor (and “facilitator Kobe” had two assists). If you want another picture, here is Kobe’s shot chart for the game.

Kobe shot chart vs. Warriors

On the season, Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall, 19.5 percent from three, and he has a career low true shooting percentage of 41.5 percent. It’s hard to watch. On a team that is supposed to be developing their young stars, Kobe took as many shots as D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle combined. Laker coach Byron Scott is good with Kobe doing whatever he wants.

But Kobe is worried about his shooting performances, right? Not so much. From Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

If Kobe can figure out the Lakers’ system this season, he will be in a club of one.

I could go on a longer rant here, but the bottom line is this is just a sad spectacle to watch. And there’s a lot of season left to watch it.

Kobe Bryant: Warriors can make run at record 33-game win streak

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Pat Riley compared the Warriors backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to one of the legendary guard tandems the game has ever seen — Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. Two Hall of Famers who led the 1972 Lakers to an NBA title.

That West/Goodrich team also won 33 straight games that season.

The Warriors are off to the fastest start in NBA history at 16-0 after destroying the hapless Lakers on Tuesday night, and the question of “when will they lose?” Kobe Bryant thinks these Warriors could get to that legendary 33 mark, as he told Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“Yeah, they could do it – because they’re good,” Bryant said afterward. “It’s a very young league, and they’ve managed to put together a team of extremely intelligent players and extremely versatile players, and great shooters. And so I see no reason why they couldn’t continue to extend (the record).”

The Warriors are not even halfway there and have shown some flashes of one-game vulnerability of late (a rough game against the Nets, for example). They have an upcoming seven-game road trip with a couple back-to-backs where they likely stumble at least once.

Then again, look at their next dozen opponents: Suns, Kings, Jazz, Hornets, Raptors, Nets, Pacers, Celtics, Bucks, Suns, Bucks, Jazz. Teams such as the Raptors and Pacers are certainly playing well, but there is no team on that list that makes you step back and say “that’s a loss.” Get through that dozen and the Warriors are at 28-0 and the Lakers’ record is within shot. The Warriors are not going to stop doing what they do — if the wearable science tells them Curry needs a night off, he’ll sit — but if they can get close, for a team trying to establish a legacy of greatness this would be a step in that direction.

The 16-0 mark already is.

Nick Young wears Gilbert Arenas’ old shoes during game (PHOTO)

Nick Young, Devin Harris
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In a disastrous Lakers season, one thing can be counted on (besides Byron Scott saying absurd things about Kobe Bryant): Nick Young will always be able to lighten the mood. He brought some levity to the Lakers’ blowout loss to the Warriors on Tuesday night with a blast from the past: a pair of gold shoes formerly worn by his ex-Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas.

These shoes, like Swaggy, and like Gilbert before the injuries and the guns, are awesome and should be celebrated.

Blake Griffin hits acrobatic three-pointer to beat the shot clock (VIDEO)

Blake Griffin

During the third quarter of the Clippers’ Tuesday night win over the Nuggets, Blake Griffin had some SportsCenter-worthy acrobatics that had nothing to do with dunking. He caught a ball in the air behind the three-point line as the shot clock expired and sank this buzzer-beater:

It was just his third made three of the season.