A new name has emerged as a potential target for the Celtics during the free agency period: Pacers guard Lance Stephenson.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Boston has made overtures to the unrestricted free agent.
Stephenson has drawn interest from the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers, although both teams have other free agents prioritized above Stephenson, according to sources. The Boston Celtics have also shown interest in Stephenson, according to a source.
Stephenson had a breakout season last season in Indiana, posting 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. The guard also led the league in triple-doubles, tallying five on the season.
The Pacers reportedly want to re-sign the Stephenson, but the 23-year-old guard has balked at their offer of a five-year extension that would be worth $44 million.
Boston does not currently have the salary cap space to offer Stephenson more than the midlevel exception ($5.3 million) but the team does have the ability to acquire him via a sign-and-trade if the two sides agree to terms.
Boston has a $10.3 million trade exception which allows them to absorb the salary that Stephenson would command (around $10 million/year) without having to send back any salary in a sign-and-trade if they were to strike a deal with Indiana.
Would Stephenson even be a fit in Boston with an already loaded backcourt featuring Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart? It’s hard to envision Boston committing so much salary to that section of their depth chart, which makes you wonder whether one of those players could be on the way out if Stephenson is brought aboard.
Boston’s sizable trade exception expires on July 14th, so if Boston is going to make a move for Stephenson it will likely come during the next week. Stay tuned.