Lance Stephenson

How much can the Pacers offer Lance Stephenson?

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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.

Report: Rockets will leave Donatas Motiejunas’ offer sheet open

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets and Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Brooklyn Nets fight for the loose ball at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.The Houston Rockets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 113-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Donatas Motiejunas’ agent, B.J. Armstrong, said he knows their rights.

Apparently, so does Houston.

Motiejunas has refused to take a physical with the Rockets since they matched his offer sheet from the Nets. So, Houston will hold him on that offer sheet indefinitely.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Motiejunas can’t sign an offer sheet with another NBA team. He probably can’t even join an overseas team in a FIBA-accredited league, because his NBA holdout will prevent him from getting clearance.

All he can do is submit to a physical or negotiate a new deal with the Rockets.

Motiejunas could undergo a physical anytime between now and March 1. If he passes, he’d join Houston on the terms of his matched offer sheet. If he fails, he’d go to Brooklyn on the original offer-sheet terms (which are $6 million apart).

Motiejunas could also negotiate a new deal with the Rockets. They have immense leverage with his matched offer sheet in place, but perhaps a compromise could be forged. Motiejunas obviously wants a chance at that $6 million, but he’ll have to concede something in exchange. Maybe that’s a later guarantee date on his 2017-18 salary. If both sides agree to a different contract, Houston would withdraw its match, which would make Motiejunas a restricted free agent. Then, the Rockets could re-sign him.

They sure aren’t letting him out of this limbo just to seek a better offer sheet from another team. A new contract must already be agreed upon.

In the meantime, Motiejunas will continue to count toward the Nets’ team salary while the offer sheet is open, which is a nuisance but not hugely disruptive. They have plenty of cap space anyway, and the odds of adding significant salary in a trade are low.

Houston will continue to play without Motiejunas. That’s also not ideal for the Rockets, but they’ve been fine without him so far.

The qualifying offer will expire on March 2, when Motiejunas will no longer be eligible to sign an offer sheet with another team. He’d still be allowed to re-sign with Houston, though. Failing that, he’ll re-enter free agency next summer, when the Rockets could again make him restricted, and we’ll start the process all over again – with the caveat that the Nets can’t sign him for one year after his offer sheet expires.

Maybe something will break before it gets to that point, but Houston and Motiejunas have trudged deeper into this standoff than ever imaginable.

Stephen Curry skips pass between DeAndre Jordan’s legs, gets Zaza Pachulia a layup (video)

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Nicolas Batum wasn’t the only player to bounce a pass through an opponent’s legs last night.

Stephen Curry nutmegged DeAndre Jordan on this sweet assist to Zaza Pachulia.

Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell take turns dunking on Julius Randle (videos)

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Head Coach Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Julius Randle #30 during the second half of a 107-101 Jazz win at Staples Center on December 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Rough night for the Lakers, who lost 134-95 to the Rockets.

It was particularly harsh for Julius Randle, who got dunked on by Clint Capela:

And then Montrezl Harrell:

Giannis Antetokounmpo called for 10-second violation on free throw (video)

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This Giannis Antetokounmpo 10-second violation was a year in the making.

Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, it was too little, too late. Antetokounmpo still finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, four blocks and two steals in the Bucks’ 115-107 win.