INDIANAPOLIS – One of the important questions regarding the Indiana Pacers‘ offseason was answered on Monday.
Indiana will decline Lance Stephenson‘s team option, making the fan favorite a free agent and opening up $4.3 million for the team as free agency approaches on July 1. Thaddeus Young‘s $13.9 million player option and Al Jefferson‘s $10 million partially guaranteed contract still hang in the balance, but the Pacers are expected to have anywhere from $10 million to $30 million in space for an important summer ahead.
“This was a very difficult decision, but as free agency begins on July 1, we want to have flexibility so that we can prepare for all of our available options,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard.
Stephenson rejoined the Pacers in March of 2017, signing a three-year deal with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. He averaged 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game off the bench for an Indiana squad in 2017-18 that surprised everyone and finished with a 48-34 record, good for fifth in the Eastern Conference and seven games with the eventual conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Speaking of the Cavaliers, Stephenson is known nationally for his battles with LeBron James. From giving him the choke sign to blowing in his ear, basketball fans everywhere (especially in Indianapolis) were enamored with Stephenson’s antics and energy.