CBS Sports writer and recent Downstroke Podcast guest Matt Moore writes that Indiana Pacers forward Lance Stephenson has turned down a 5 year, $44 million offer from the club. ESPN's Chris Broussard tweeted this morning that the two sides were at an impasse, with Stephenson wanting more than the club was willing to offer.
Stephenson has had disciplinary issues in the past which have to be influencing the Pacers' decision to make him one of their highest-paid players. As such he would be expected to provide locker room leadership, which many would probably question. However, many teams have been making generous offers for second and even third-tier players in this free agent signing period. Given Stephenson's age and breakout performance last season, it's not surprising he would choose to test the market further.
Indiana's cap situation is extremely tight, with reports indicating the Pacers are only about $5 million under the luxury tax threshold of $77 million for this year, barring any further cost-cutting moves. But Stephenson and his agent have to be looking at offers like Gordon Hayward's max contract and wondering if there are greener pastures elsewhere.
Speculation on Twitter names the Bulls, Lakers, and Hornets as teams interested in Stephenson. He will be an Plan B or C for a club with money to spend that doesn't end up landing one of the Heat's current free agents, or Carmelo Anthony. Once the big names make their choices known, many secondary free agents such as Stephenson will find homes quickly.