(CBS) There’s no bigger enigma hitting the open market this summer than Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, who will be an unrestricted free agent. Stephenson possesses a bundle of talent but also a wild streak on the court, and his combustive personality is said to scare off some teams.
So what will come of the Stephenson situation in July? Grantland’s Zach Lowe published an extensive and well-detailed piece today on Stephenson, and he laid out the suitors who could be interested and what the 23-year-old could command in a league devoid of quality two-way shooting guards like Stephenson.
Not surprisingly, the Bulls were listed among the possibilities. Also not surprisingly, Stephenson is likely headed elsewhere, Lowe predicts, listing Chicago as a “wild card.” Here’s what he had to write on Chicago and Stephenson:
They’re reportedly deep into the tunnel of Love, and they’d need to use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer to open up the requisite space. Jimmy Butler is entrenched at shooting guard, but that brings up a larger point: The wing positions are basically interchangeable on most teams. Butler and Stephenson are both long and strong enough to guard most NBA small forwards; Stephenson at least made LeBron work for it in the conference finals until the Pacers rolled over in Game 6.
The two together could be terrifying, and Stephenson is a more advanced ball handler, capable of easing the load for Derrick Rose — something in which the Bulls should be very interested now.
But the Bulls are looking at other options, and Stephenson is likely too combustible for their taste. They’d love to find a better shooter, especially with Butler’s plateau as an offensive player last season.
Lowe also writes that Stephenson “isn’t going to command anything close to a super-max contract,” but part of the problem for any interested suitor is that there is more demand than supply for two-guards, and it only takes one desperate team to up the stakes. There’s also a handful of creative ways that teams could entice Stephenson.
For example, the Lakers — with cap room for 2014-’15 and an eye on big names in summer 2015 — have the flexibility to offer a one-year, $15-million contract when Stephenson may really be worth half of that per season, Lowe writes. The Hornets, Pacers and Pistons are the best possibilities for Stephenson’s landing spot, and many teams will look to see if the Stephenson bidding starts in the $6 million-$8 million range, Lowe reports.
Likely, Stephenson’s price will rise from there. It’s just a question of how much.