Pacers unrestricted free agent Lance Stephenson, already the target of multiple teams including the Heat, Celtics, Mavericks and Lakers, will also be pursued by the new-look Charlotte Hornets, according to a report Saturday from Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.
The Hornets are expected to use the $20 million in cap space they still have after losing out on swingman Gordon Hayward, a restricted free agent who was retained by the Jazz. The Hornets had offered Hayward a max deal but the Jazz matched it and now Charlotte has turned its sights to Stephenson. The Pacers offered the 23-year-old Stephenson a five-year, $44 million deal at the start of free agency but he remains at an impasse with Indiana as continues to test free agent waters.
The Heat had reportedly inquired about Stephenson's interest in going to Miami, but this was before LeBron James announced his decision to leave Miami and return to Cleveland. On Friday, the four-time MVP wrote an essay for SI.com announcing his decision to go back to the Cavaliers. The Celtics, Mavericks and Lakers have also reportedly had varying levels of interest in Stephenson, but as Deveney reported on Saturday, only the Mavericks, Hornets and possibly the Rockets -- if they retain Chandler Parsons -- still have real interest in Stephenson. With Houston agreeing to terms with forward Trevor Ariza this weekend, it's possible the Rockets have moved on from their interest in Stephenson.
The Pacers would like to keep Stephenson but he could end up joining a Hornets roster led by All-Star big man Al Jefferson and budding point guard Kemba Walker. On Saturday, the Hornets agreed to terms with free agent Marvin Williams that will pay the forward $14 million over the next two years.
Stephenson had a breakout year with averages of 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists, helping lead the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Marc Weinreich