The Indiana Pacers season has been put to rest as the Miami Heat head to the NBA finals for the teams fourth consecutive time. The Pacers had a season full of ups and downs, but the downs near the end may have shift the future of the team.
Its hard not to be aware of the team’s biggest personality in Lance Stephenson at this point, and his future with the team may be the most unclear situation as the offseason begins in Indiana.
Even with the questionable antics near the end of the final series for the Pacers, Stephenson is still welcomed by a number of players and the coaching staff as a possible returning member for next season, Zak Keefer of USA Today writes.
“In our eyes (right now), Lance is still here, still a part of this organization,” George Hill said. “We love Lance as a teammate and we hope that the organization brings him back with this group. He’s a big part of this team’s success.”
The only Pacers’ starter not signed to a long-term deal, Stephenson is coming off his finest year as a pro, even earning significant talk of an All-Star nod midway through the season.
The market for Stephenson will be just as unclear as he enters restricted free agency as his actions may have turned several teams away.
Teams may not look to offer as much money to him in hopes that a discount would outweigh the possible shenanigans his attitude may bring on a new team. Kevin Martin’s market last summer may be a comparable situation, even with the age difference.
Martin signed a 4 year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, starting at $6.5 million a year.
The Pacers will be able to go over the salary cap with Stephenson’s bird rights, but the qualifying offer that may be extended to Evan Turner, could put a strain on the small market team.