The Charlotte Hornets are “looking into possibly signing” restricted free agent Lance Stephenson to an offer sheet, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. The Indiana Pacers swingman is one of the top remaining players on the market after the flurry of moves in the past few days.
The Hornets have available salary cap space, but it’s unclear where the team will go after failing to land Gordon Hayward in free agency. Charlotte and Hayward agreed to a four-year, $63 million offer sheet earlier this month, but the Utah Jazz matched the contract in order to keep the 24-year-old in Salt Lake City.
That’s left the Hornets scrambling to look elsewhere in a market that’s not exactly loaded with quality wings. In the past week, names like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chandler Parsons, Trevor Ariza, Paul Pierce and Luol Deng signed new deals, leaving Stephenson as one of the top guys left.
The Pacers don’t want Stephenson to leave, though, and already reportedly offered him a five-year, $44 million deal earlier in the offseason. Stephenson declined that offer, but he’s had a hard time commanding major offers after his questionable antics during the 2014 postseason.
The Hornets could make some sense for Stephenson, though, given their need on the wing and available cap space. While he’s not the kind of long-range shooter that you’d ideally like to put next to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he’s a developing offensive player who can help make Charlotte one of the most difficult defensive teams in the NBA.
Last season, Stephenson had a breakout performance, averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. At 23 years old, he’s considered a highly talented player who still needs to hammer out some character issues in order to reach his potential. That’s part of what’s limited the Pacers’ offers to date, and could affect how much Charlotte offers.
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