Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Lance Stephenson isn't worth bigger offer from Pacers

For years, they've put up with Lance Stephenson's nonsense. Off the court, mostly on the court and in the locker room, the Indiana Pacers have held their noses and dealt with every one of Stephenson's missteps, his ball-hogging, his stat-chasing, his impertinent speaking, his ludicrous ear-blowing. They've put up with it all, with Pacers President Larry Bird forever stationed in Stephenson's corner, even when Stephenson crossed the line into absurdity.
So let's ignore that in the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals, after the point where his act had worn extraordinarily thin, Stephenson did nothing to make the case that he deserves a $10 million-plus contract.
ANALYSIS: What is Lance worth?
STALEMATE: Pacers make offer
It's like this: If Stephenson, the Pacers' 23-year-old free agent shooting guard, doesn't want a five-year, $44 million contract, if that's not enough to keep him in one of the few places where he's still accepted whether he's "Good Lance" or "Bad Lance," let him go.
See ya. Au revoir. Nice knowing you.
Listen, if Stephenson can get $10 million a year on the open market — and that's what his agent is paid to do — the more power to him and his family.
But I'm saying this now: Stephenson will never have as good a support system (read: Bird) as he has now in Indianapolis. He will never find a group of teammates more willing (however grudgingly) to put up with his antics, both on the practice court and in games. He will never find a fan base more willing to embrace him, a fan base that loves him despite all his warts, much like Ron Artest, the former Pacers All-Star now named Metta World Peace.
If I'm Bird, I'm not moving off that offer. I'm not budging because the contract offer fully reflects Stephenson's worth. Yes, he is a tremendous raw talent who led the league in triple-doubles. He's also enigmatic, which is a nice way of saying he can be a complete knucklehead at times. He's a time bomb in the same way Artest was forever poised to explode.
He was central to some of the Pacers' late-season issues, and his misguided commentary helped inspire LeBron James to not only want to beat the Pacers in the East finals, but humiliate them. (Mission accomplished.)

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