Returning to the Pacers after signing a three-year deal with the team in late March, Lance Stephenson is acting like he never left in the first place. Pacers fans at least feel that way, giving Stephenson a standing ovation in his first game back in Indianapolis. Then, true to form, he got into a bit of a brouhaha with the Raptors after scoring in the closing moments of the blowout. But Stephenson is fitting in Indiana outside of the court as well, especially since he has an unique plan to keep Paul George in a Pacers uniform for the foreseeable future.
George will be a free agent in the summer of 2018 and could potentially leave the Pacers to sign with another team. The Los Angeles Lakers are one prospective team that George is reportedly interested in joining as he has expressed interest in playing in his hometown. This looming threat of George’s possible departure is why the Pacers entertained offers for the All-Star forward before February’s trade deadline.
But the Pacers have one thing going for them: if George gets selected to an All-NBA team this year, they can sign him to a designated veteran extension this summer, guaranteeing that he will be on the team for the long-term. George however, isn’t a lock to make an All-NBA team, which is why Stephenson has the perfect solution to keep his teammate in Indiana.
Stephenson on if he'll get PG to stay: "I gotta get all my guys, tie him up on a chair, and say, 'You ain't going nowhere, Paul George'."
— Derek Schultz (@Schultz975) April 5, 2017
Stephenson’s plan (which is likely a joke), brings back memories of the Clippers jokingly locking DeAndre Jordan in his house in the summer of 2015 until he re-signed with the team. And if that worked for the Clippers, perhaps Stephenson’s idea could also work for the Pacers.
Of course Stephenson openly talking about his plan could spoil it as George is now aware and could be anticipating his teammate’s “guys” coming to get him. But either way, George’s future with the Pacers is up in the air for now, and Indiana will need a more solid plan than Stephenson’s joke to ensure that their All-Star re-signs.