BOSTON (CBS) — A chaotic NBA off-season isn’t slowing down, and the Boston Celtics have reportedly thrown themselves into the mix for one of the bigger names on the market.
No, it’s not Lebron, Carmelo or even a revisit of the Kevin Love trade (not yet at least). This time, the Celtics are reportedly interested in Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson.
Boston’s interest in Stephenson (first reported by ESPN and later shot down by The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett) is a little puzzling, especially after they signed Avery Bradley to a four-year deal last week. Stephenson had a breakout season last year, leading the NBA with five triple-doubles and making a name for himself with some gritty defense during the playoffs (just ask Lebron). There are a few off-the-court issues and questions about the 23-year-old’s maturity, and Stephenson certainly won’t come cheap after turning down a five-year, $44 million offer from Indiana.
Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com joined Rich Keefe (filling in for Adam Jones) on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Monday night, and said with players like Jodie Meeks (three-year, $19.5 million deal from Detroit) and Channing Frye (four-years, $32 million from Orlando) signing big deals, expect Stephenson to demand even more on the open market.
“Lance turning down $8.8 million from the Pacers doesn’t seem all that crazy,” said Kyler. “The other part too, and you mentioned the chaotic nature of free agency, is you have so many teams with a ton of money. You have four teams sitting on $18-19 million a year and are looking for a difference-maker. Lance proved last year that he can be that on the court, but you have to wonder what he’s going to be off the court, and that’s the real red flag with him. Do you want to bring a guy who could be a distraction to you, even though he’s a triple-double machine?”
Stephenson could have been lumped into that top group of free agents this summer, but his off-the-court issues are what make him part of that second tier of free agents said Kyler.
“If you were talking about a guy who was a choir boy, the perfect soldier, what he does on the court is worth more than $12 million. But you’re talking about a guy who has some serious character concerns, and I think some of that is maturity. But you saw what happened to Indiana; he can become a distraction on the floor as well.
“I think he’s kind of a harmless knucklehead. He’s a tremendous player and it’s kind of like DeMarcus Cousins with Sacramento; if you can live through the toddler years of Lance Stephenson, you may get a really special player. Sometimes in this league you just have to bet that the talent will outweigh some of the other stuff in a player’s early 20’s.”
Kyler said the Pacers will probably make another higher offer to Stephenson this off-season, but if Boston, Dallas or any of the other interested teams come in with a much higher one, they’re ready to part ways with the guard.
Kyler also touches on Avery Bradley’s new deal, if the Big 3 will be back in Miami, and how long he thinks Rajon Rondo will be a member of the Celtics. Listen to the full interview below: