Lance Stephenson Flees The Pacers For Less Money
Despite his theatrics, Lance Stephenson was a valuable contributor who helped the Indiana Pacers lock up the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season. The free agency market for him was a bit tepid, and all signs pointed to him taking a five-year, $44 million offer to stay in Indy.
But Stephenson threw us yet another curveball by signing with the Charlotte Hornets, who were eager to get some help on the wing after losing out on Gordon Hayward. To get him for just slightly more per season than what the Pacers offered, (three years, $27 million) with the final year being a team option, is a master stroke for GM Rich Cho. He’s a divisive figure, but in a worst case scenario the Hornets can be rid of him in just two years. It’s rare to see a player flee a top team for less overall money and years.
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Pau Gasol Headed To The Windy City
Struggling with injuries and buried on a bad Lakers team last season, Pau Gasol had gone from key piece on a perennial contender to a forgotten man. By moving to Chicago, he has a final chance to remind people of his brilliance before the curtain drops on his career.
Chicago’s frontcourt rotation will be something to behold with Gasol in the fray. Alongside incumbents Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, Gasol and Euro stud Nikola Mirotic will combine to give the Bulls perhaps the most diverse set of big men in the league. Noah and Gibson’s defensive aptitude and speed relative to position will allow Gasol to play his natural center role more often, and Mirotic’s shooting threat will give him the space inside to post up and hit cutters with his top-notch passing. If Derrick Rose can stay healthy — no small feat — the Bulls may be the favorite to come out of the East.
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Basketball is usually relegated to the background during the summer months, the sights and sounds of baseball taking over until the roar of NFL training camp begins in earnest. But hoops stars new and old have stepped into the spotlight during the summer of 2014, grabbing headlines and leading the national conversation about sports.
A lean by many NBA front offices toward “acquiring assets” and building for the future has coincided with the popularity explosion of fantasy sports. With a large segment of the sports-watching public creating crazy (fictitious) trades and transactions in their spare time, it’s not surprising that the league’s second season has taken on a life of its own.
Of course, the big names draw the most attention. Any list of the biggest NBA moves has to start with the biggest of them all.
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