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.
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.