Former Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson reached a three-year, $27 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets on July 16.
"The fact is Lance Stephenson wasn't the first choice in free agency by the Charlotte Hornets and Charlotte wasn't Stephenson's choice as a free-agency destination.
"But more than two weeks into the July period when NBA teams could negotiate with players not under contract, the Hornets and Stephenson both had reason to be anxious.
"The Hornets threw a huge offer sheet at restricted free agent Gordon Hayward ($63 million over four seasons), only to see the Utah Jazz match to retain the 6-foot-8 swingman. Along the way power forward Josh McRoberts -- the player Hornets owner Michael Jordan called the team's 'connect-the-dots guy' -- chose to sign instead with the Miami Heat.
"Meanwhile Stephenson -- a gifted 6-foot-6 shooting guard, but also a quirky, sometimes disruptive, player -- was not getting what he wanted in negotiations with the Indiana Pacers.
"The Pacers had offered $44 million guaranteed over five years -- a big raise for a player chosen 40th overall in the 2010 draft. Stephenson felt he was worth lots more, but the Pacers wouldn't budge.
"So Tuesday, for the first time since free agency began July 1, the Hornets and Stephenson contemplated a union. The two sides met late afternoon in Las Vegas. By 6 a.m. Wednesday, general manager Rich Cho And Stephenson agent Alberto Ebanks had a deal.
"As first reported by the Observer, Stephenson will sign a three-year season contract with the third season at the Hornets' option. He'll make $9 million each of the first two seasons and $9.4 million if the Hornets keep him for the 2016-17 season.
"Stephenson is expected to sign the contract in time for a Friday news conference in Charlotte."
According to ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, the Dallas Mavericks were also interested in Stephenson:
"The Dallas Mavericks had a two-year, $20 million offer on the table to Stephenson, contingent on the Houston Rockets matching their offer for forward Chandler Parsons. If Houston had matched, Stephenson would have signed with Dallas, sources said.
"Like many teams, the Hornets, while fans of Stephenson's play, had concerns about his antics and attitude. But sources say those concerns were alleviated in Tuesday's face-to-face meeting."
Ebanks then issued a statement on Stephenson's departure to The Indianapolis Star:
"Lance is forever grateful for all the love he's received from Pacers fans. He is especially grateful to his teammates, Frank Vogel, 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 and beginning a new chapter with the Charlotte Hornets."
Stephenson enjoyed his best pro season in 2013-14, averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game in 78 regular-season games for the Pacers, per ESPN stats.