Lance Stephenson, one of the biggest prizes remaining on the NBA free agent market, agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets early Wednesday, the Charlotte Observer is reporting. Stephenson played his first four NBA seasons with the Pacers, who reportedly extended a five-year, $44 million offer that the shooting guard rejected.
“We made him a wonderful offer and they didn’t think it was enough, so it’s a simple situation,” Pacers owner Herb Simon told the Indianapolis Star.
Stephenson will make $9 million annually over the first two years of the deal and then receive a slight raise if the Hornets pick up the team option for the third year of the contract.
Last season, Stephenson led the NBA in triple-doubles with five and set career highs in minutes per game (35.3), points per game (13.8), field goal percentage (49.1), three-point percentage (35.2), rebounds per game (7.2), assists per game (4.6), win shares (7.4) and PER (14.7).
But the shooting guard also has a reputation for confrontational behavior on the court, which may be one reason he has lasted so long on the fee agent market. In last season’s Eastern Conference finals, he blew in the ear of the Miami Heat’s LeBron James, launching a thousand Internet memes. He also racked up 14 technical fouls, fourth most in the NBA last season, and is the only player in NBA history to be fined three times for flopping, earning an NBA-record $10,000 fine during the series against Miami for his latest embellishment.
“Like many teams, the Hornets, while fans of Stephenson’s play, had concerns about his antics and attitude. But sources say those concerns were alleviated in Tuesday’s face-to-face meeting,” ESPN’s Chris Broussard wrote.