Lance Stephenson was huge for the Indiana Pacers last season, and has really come into his own during the last couple of years. However, Stephenson may be headed in a different direction next season, as he has just rejected a firm offer from the Pacers for a 5 year $44 million dollar contract.
The contract negotiations are expected to continue, but the offer did not seem to come close to what Stephenson thinks he is worth. He will meet with several other teams that are interested in his services, and this will likely prompt the Pacers to make a higher offer in order to retain their key player.
Larry Bird, the Pacers owner, has expressed interest in keeping Stephenson on the team, but it may not become a reality because of their salary cap issues. According to a source, "Pacers' President Larry Bird previously has said that the team has a price for Stephenson and will not exceed it". This suggests that Stephenson will seriously consider other teams because he believes that his value exceeds the offer that Larry Bird set forth.
Stephenson had a career year last season, averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. He also tallied several triple doubles, making him a versatile young player. At only 23 years old, a team would love to have this rising star on their roster, and he will likely have many suitors.
After being snubbed from the All-Star game last year, Stephenson likely will want to prove that he is deserving of being an All-Star next season, and will continue to improve his play.
There are some questions, however, about Stephenson's attitude on and off the court. After grabbing the attention of the media with his antics during the Heat-Pacers series in the playoffs, there are some concerns about whether this was just a one-time thing or whether he will continue to do these things. There is also a concern that he will not fit in on a team where he will not be one of the focal points of the team, and will have to cut down on his touches.
Regardless of where Stephenson ends up this offseason, he is set to have another breakout season, and could develop into a star player. While he has expressed an interest in remaining in Indiana, this may not be a realistic option, and the young player could follow the money to a different team.
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