For the third season in a row, the Indiana Pacers season was ended by the Miami Heat. Despite getting homecourt for the series, the Pacers were blown out in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals and now have to figure out how to get over the hump.
While most of the core players are locked in to long term contracts, the one player who isn’t is Lance Stephenson. Stephenson has been in the news recently for his unusual antics in this series, but he had a breakout season, leading the NBA in triple-doubles this year.
An unrestricted free agent, Stephenson could leave this off-season, and with Stephenson being something of a wild-card both on and off the court, some wonder if the Pacers will bring him back. Star player Paul George was asked if he wanted Stephenson back and surprisingly was unsure according to ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez:
Paul George, asked if he wants Lance on his side next year: "I mean, I don't know."
— Israel Gutierrez (@IzzyESPN) May 31, 2014
Stephenson’s play this year definitely earned him a hefty raise from what he was making this year, but teams are unsure what to expect from him mentally. The Pacers dealt with a lot of turmoil this season and it is believed that Stephenson has played a role in at least some of it.
With the Lakers being flush with cap room, it is not out of the question that the Lakers could target Stephenson. Kobe showed that he can work with a loose-cannon type player in Metta World Peace, and Stephenson will be one of the best players on the market.
As with all free agents, the right price will be key. At only 23 and with loads of talent, Stephenson could be in the Lakers’ plans — especially if Indiana’s star player doesn’t want him back.
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