Free agent shooting guard Lance Stephenson has agreed to a three-year, $27.5 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets, a league source told RealGM.
Stephenson met with Michael Jordan, Rich Cho, Steve Clifford and other team officials in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, when the Hornets delivered him a contract offer. Stephenson’s contract will have the annual salary structure of $9 million in Years 1 and 2 and $9.5 million in Year 3, a source said. The third season is a team option.
With the Indiana Pacers, Stephenson blossomed into an effective all-around player and provided an ideal complement to Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West. His suitors came and went throughout free agency and his dialogue with the Pacers’ front office diminished, leaving an uncertainty about whether their five-year, $44 million deal was still available.
Stephenson heard pitches from the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks early in free agency and held fluctuating conversations with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls. Stephenson had been in the process of finalizing a possible deal with the Mavericks before the Houston Rockets decided to allow Chandler Parsons to follow through on his offer sheet in Dallas, sources told RealGM.
The Charlotte Observer first reported that Stephenson reached an agreement with the Hornets.
In his meeting with Charlotte, Stephenson became impressed by the organization’s direction and intrigued about a pitch on his offensive role. The Hornets have searched for an infusion of talent and emerged as a viable option once Gordon Hayward remained with the Utah Jazz.
Stephenson, 23, averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists for the Pacers in 2013-14 and his loss damages their ability to recover from a staggering close to the season. He had been part of distracting on-court antics in the playoffs, but had remained productive and had Larry Bird willing to accept a larger role in his growth.
For Stephenson, the Year 1 salary played a major role between the Hornets and Pacers offers, a difference of nearly $1.5 million. Now, he’ll face the challenge of fitting in a fresh locker room and blending within a diverse talent group.
Indiana chose Stephenson with the 40th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. In four seasons, he averaged 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.