The Indiana Pacers plan to decline Lance Stephenson’s team option worth $4.3 million for the 2018-19 season, which will make him an unrestricted free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The move will allow the Pacers to maintain as much financial flexibility as possible entering free agency on July 1. Stephenson had a team option on the three-year contract he signed with the Pacers when he returned to the franchise in 2016.
The Pacers wrestled with the decision on Stephenson’s option, waiting until Monday’s deadline to decide on his deal.
Indiana could still re-sign Stephenson once the organization surveys the market in free agency, league sources said.
Stephenson has performed well since rejoining the Pacers, finishing last season with averages of 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 82 games. The Pacers went 46-36 last season, emerging as one of the league’s surprises behind a core of All-Star Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Bojan Bogdanovic. Indiana lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Stephenson, 27, was the 40th overall pick to the Pacers in the 2010 NBA draft and became a critical contributor on back-to-back Eastern Conference finals teams in 2013 and 2014. He left the organization in 2014 to sign a three-year deal in Charlotte, and bounced around with the Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves before returning to the Pacers.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Swedish players defend teammate targetted by racist trolls
• Egypt’s 45-year-old goalie saves penalty, sets World Cup record
• Julian Edelman reportedly planning major defense against suspension
• Rapper T.I. plans to boycott NFL over national anthem rules