Lance Stephenson in ‘strong talks’ to return to injury-depleted Pacers, per report

Lance Stephenson just can’t seem to stay away from the Indiana Pacers. After starting his career with the Pacers, Stephenson flamed out with the Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers throughout a hefty five-year contract and was forced to return to his original team as a backup. He thrived enough in that role to land a new deal with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, but played so poorly in L.A. that he ended up playing in China this season. 

With both sides growing desperate, however, Stephenson appears set for a third go-around with the Pacers. He is “in strong talks” to return to Indiana, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. 

Nothing is final, and there are still some obstacles to clear. Most notably, Stephenson is still technically playing in China. The CBA suspended its season indefinitely to combat the outbreak of coronavirus, but allowed a fellow player, Chasson Randle, to return to the NBA. Stephenson would need permission as well, but if he gets it, the Pacers make plenty of sense as a destination. 

Indiana lost Jeremy Lamb for the season to a gruesome knee injury last month. Victor Oladipo returned to the floor from an ACL tear in January, but has struggled with his own health since and hasn’t played like the superstar he had been in the past. 

Malcolm Brogdon was the latest Pacers guard to hit the injury report with a quad issue that has him week-to-week. Indiana sorely needs a ball-handling guard to pick up that slack. 

Stephenson can do that. He struggled in an off-ball role on last year’s shooting-deprived Lakers team, but has played well in Indiana as a secondary shot-creator. His defense has grown inconsistent in recent years, and his antics may drive opponents and his own coaches and teammates crazy, but given the limited options available on the free agent market in March, the Pacers would be hard-pressed to do much better. Stephenson is, at least, a known commodity within that organization. 

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