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Kevin Pritchard: Lance Stephenson Top Player on Pacers at Times, Opponent Others

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 6, 2018

Indiana Pacers' Lance Stephenson (1) drives against the Charlotte Hornets during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, April 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has an interesting opinion of Lance Stephenson.   

After Stephenson left the Pacers and agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, Pritchard said the eight-year veteran could be the best Pacer on the court or the best asset for an opponent on any given night. 

"Sometimes he was the best player on our team, and sometimes he was the best player on the other team," Pritchard told reporters. "We love Lance and we wish him the best."

Per freelance reporter Mark Montieth, Pritchard noted the Pacers made Stephenson a better offer than what he received from the Lakers, but a phone call from LeBron James pushed Los Angeles over the top. 

Indiana declined Stephenson's $4.3 million option for the 2018-19 season on June 25. 

Stephenson has a tendency for buffoonery that can hurt his team.

For example, during an April 10 game against the Charlotte Hornets, Stephenson celebrated blocking a shot by Dwight Howard by flexing and trash-talking. The play continued with his back turned away, leading to an easy dunk for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The only sustained success Stephenson has found in his career has been with the Pacers. He's spent parts of six seasons with them, but he bounced around to five other teams in two seasons from 2015-17. 

Indiana brought Stephenson back in March 2017, when he signed a three-year deal. The 27-year-old averaged 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in helping the Pacers reach the playoffs last season. 

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