Lance Stephenson is a free agent no more, having agreed with the Charlotte Hornets to a contract worth $9M per year for three years, with a player option on the third year.
His former employees, the Indiana Pacers, wanted him to re-sign with them and had offered Stephenson a five year deal worth $44 M. The general feeling was that Stephenson’s preference was to stay with the pacers – team president Larry Bird said so himself. But Lance didn’t think the offer valued him correctly and looked for better deals elsewhere.
Ironically there is hardly any difference between his annual salary with the Hornets and what the Pacers were offering. But crucially, Lance’s deal with the Hornets enables him to become a free agent as soon as 2016. Assuming Stephenson’s stock shoots up in the next 12-18 months - and for a 23 year old who led the league in triple doubles and narrowly missed out on all-star - spot this outcome is likely.
Stephenson is joining a team that is on the rise in the Hornets. The Hornets, or the Bobcats as they were known until May, made the playoffs for the first time in four years as a seventh seed. They have established an identity as a sound defensive team which Stephenson can fit into. He can also help them on the offensive end as he is a capable, if unpredictable, shot creator.
The Hornets still have over $14M in cap space with which to improve their roster.
The departure of Stephenson is a significant loss to the Indiana Pacers, especially because they are already over the cap and so don’t have the means to replace him adequately.