Pacers still hopeful of re-signing Lance Stephenson

CJ Miles
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The Indiana Pacers formally announced the signings of free agents C.J. Miles, Damjan Rudez and Lavoy Allen Friday. But the team still hopes to announce another signing soon. The Pacers remain hopeful Lance Stephenson will decide to re-sign with the team that drafted him.

“We’re still very hopeful that he remains a Pacer,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said Friday morning. “It’s in his hands in terms of the offers that he gets out there and weighing his options. We made him an offer and he’s weighing his options.”

Stephenson made just under a million dollars last season. The Pacers new contract offer is reportedly worth $44 million over the next five seasons. Only the Pacers can offer a five year deal. Other teams can offer more money, but for no more than four years. Stephenson is likely to receive more interest in the free agent market as top-level free agents like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony make their choices and leave other teams with money to spend.

New Pacers shooting guard C.J. Miles would be in line for more playing time and perhaps even a spot in the starting lineup if Stephenson is not re-signed.

“He’s a tremendous player and he’s a great piece to a team and you would love to have him back,” said Miles Friday morning as he was introduced to the Indianapolis media. “But I wasn’t brought here to replace or take anything from anybody. I was brought here to be C.J. Miles.”

Lavoy Allen came to the Pacers with Evan Turner in a late February trade that sent Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers. Allen played in just 14 games, averaging 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds. Allen re-signed with the Pacers, and hopes Stephenson will follow.

“That would be a great addition,” said Allen. “There were many times, especially in the playoffs, when (Lance) carried the team. He would get on scoring spurts that changed the direction of the game. He’s a very crucial part of this team.”

Stephenson’s Sir Lancelot YouTube NBA All-Star campaign fell short last season. But Stephenson enjoyed a breakout season in his 4th year with the Pacers. His statistics jumped in every category, averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. He led the team in rebounding and assists. Stephenson shot 49% from the field and 35% from three-point range, both career bests. He thrilled Pacers fans with a franchise record five triple-doubles.

Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird selected Stephenson in 2010 in the second round (40th overall) of the NBA draft at age 19. Stephenson is now just 23 years old. He has grown up in Indianapolis, but how much? Maturity remains a big question with his sometimes over the top antics. He led the Eastern Conference with 14 technical fouls.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, Lance drew national attention, most of it negative, when he blew in the ear of Miami Heat superstar LeBron James. Even after Bird warned Stephenson to settle down, Stephenson tapped James in the face the very next game. But Bird has remained one of Stephenson’s strongest supporters.