The Charlotte Hornets won’t be shut out in this free agency after signing free agent guard Lance Stephenson stealing him away from the East rivals Indiana Pacers.
The Michael Jordan-owned franchise acquired the volatile but talented wingman after agreeing to a three-year $27.5 million contract. The last year of the deal is a team option, which means Stephenson will again hit free agency if the team decides not to pick him up on that final year.
The contract is considerably shorter and cheaper with reports that the Pacers were willing to give Stephenson a $55M/5 year deal before his contract expired in Indiana.
Either way, it appears that the Hornets have nabbed him on a bargain deal.
Earlier in the 2014 offseason, Charlotte offered Utah Jazz’s restricted free agent Gordon Hayward to a multiyear max contract. The Jazz matched the offer sheet leaving the Hornets to explore free agency.
That led to the signing of Stephenson, who will earn roughly $9M per year, and they dodged the bullet of overpaying for Hayward who would been owed around $15M a season.
The 23-year-old Stephenson will join a relatively young Charlotte crew which includes point guard Kemba Walker (23 years old); guard/forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (20 years old); big men Bismack Biyombo (21 years old); Cody Zeller (21 years old); and Noah Vonleh (18 years old).
Veterans in the line-up are starting center and franchise player Al Jefferson (29 years old) and newly-acquired forward Marvin Williams (28 years old).
Stephenson was a vital cog in the Pacers’ playoff run in recent years. However, he is also known for his weird antics including the infamous “blowing in the ear” of LeBron James during their playoff series with the Miami Heat.
Stephenson averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 78 regular season games and 13.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists in playoff games in the 2013-2014 season.