Coney Island’s Lance Stephenson will cash in on a career-best season in 2013-14 as he has signed a three-year deal worth $27 million to play for the Charlotte Hornets, according to multiple reports.
Stephenson, 24 in September, averaged 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per 36 minutes while shooting 49.1 percent and 35.2 percent from behind the arc — all career highs. He led the league in triple-doubles and his PER (Player Efficiency Rating) was also a career high at 14.7. Stephenson has turned into one of the best defenders in the league and last year, for the first time, he was a real threat offensively as well.
Stephenson turned down a five-year, $44 million offer from the Indiana Pacers earlier this month which works out to more money per year over a longer period. The Pacers were likely looking to have him for cheap in his prime years while Stephenson probably thinks he can cash in for an even bigger pay day as he turns 27-years-old.
“Lance is forever grateful for all the love he’s received from Pacers fans,” said Alberto Banks, Stephenson’s agent, in a statement. “He is especially grateful to his teammates, [Pacers coach] Frank Vogel, [owner] Herb Simon, the Pacers management and most of all, Larry Bird. While we tried our best to come to the best possible terms for both sides, there was not sufficient flexibility in the terms of the contract, particularly the length of the contract.
“Reports throughout the negotiation process with Indiana have often strayed from the truth but suffice it to say that it was less about the money. Lance will miss the city, the team and the mentor who helped transform him into the dynamic player he has become. He looks forward to making a strong contribution and beginning a new chapter with the Charlotte Hornets.”
For Brooklyn fans dreaming that Stephenson will someday return to the borough, this deal sets him up to be a free agent again in 2017-18. As of right now, the Nets don’t have any players signed to contracts lasting that long so they could hypothecially be free to sign him then.
This does have an interesting New York twist, though, as Stephenson will be united with Kemba Walker, a Bronx native and graduate of Rice High School, in the back court.