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.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.