Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game Seven

Agent for Lance Stephenson: ‘We’re in no rush’ to get a deal done

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Lance Stephenson appeared to be an obvious choice for the Pacers as someone the team would want to re-sign, considering the fact that they’re maxed out from a salary cap perspective and can’t just go out and replace Stephenson with comparable talent available on the open market.

But the available dollars for Stephenson have only dwindled since the initial offer of 5 years, $44 million was rejected, and now the Pacers would need to trim salary just to up their offer, even by the smallest of margins.

There’s no panic in Stephenson’s camp, however, at least not yet. His agent believes the process has gone as expected, and is preaching patience as the scenario continues to play itself out.

From Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star:

Besides the discussions with the Pacers, Stephenson, 23, must wait until the big sharks of free agency open the waters for everyone else. …

“If we’re talking about a deal with the Pacers, I don’t know if any of the dominoes have to fall,” Stephenson’s agent Alberto Ebanks predicted before the start of free agency. “(But) if we were talking about some of the other teams, I would think that those teams are looking to explore the very, very top tier LeBron James and company … so I would think that yes.” …

“We’re in a rush to get a really good deal done,” Ebanks has said, “and we’re in no rush to enter into something that’s short of being a good situation for him and the next team or the current team.”

The ancillary players who have agreed to deals in the early days of free agency have been overpaid, which in theory, is good news for Stephenson. In a world where Avery Bradley is going to get $8 million per year, the offer to Stephenson that falls short of $9 million a season feels (somewhat ironically) like a bit of a slap in the face.

It’s unclear if Indiana is willing to shed the salary necessary to up their offer to Stephenson. But once teams start missing out on the bigger names in free agency, it’s likely that one of them with cap space will come calling with a much larger offer to retain Stephenson’s services.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. 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.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: