The Pacers tried to retain Lance Stephenson in free agency this summer, but ultimately their offer wasn’t one that Stephenson’s camp viewed as being desirable.
Stephenson ended up taking less money to play for the Hornets, because two years guaranteed at $9 million per with a team option for a third year would have him once again hit free agency just as the salary cap begins to increase dramatically in light of the league’s new lucrative broadcast rights deal.
But at least one other team was interested in Stephenson, and willing to commit under those very same terms.
The Dallas Mavericks, though, were interested in Ebanks’ terms. By the weekend of July 11, both sides had verbally committed to a two-year contract worth slightly more than Stephenson’s eventual deal with the Hornets, according to Ebanks. But Dallas was in a holding pattern; the Houston Rockets first had to match Chandler Parsons’ Mavericks offer, or it wouldn’t happen.
“It was a domino effect,” Ebanks said. “Dallas did not think that Houston was going to let Parsons walk. Lance was very close to being a member of the Mavericks. When you’re a little further along into free agency, people are more in the position to pull the trigger when they see what they’re looking for.”
This is just another example of how frenzied the free agent process truly is.
While the more major players took their time deciding on where to sign, others were forced to wait, as teams weren’t ready to relinquish salary cap space until they heard whether or not they had a chance at landing one of the bigger names. That caused a variety of backup plans to be negotiated; Parsons was believed to be coveted by the Cavaliers if LeBron James didn’t choose to return to Cleveland, and Houston chasing Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh prevented them from locking up Parsons early on, at what would have been a more reasonable price.
Once all of those pieces fell into place, it was eventually Stephenson’s turn to be informed of his ultimate destination.