Pacers to keep Lance Stephenson for rest of season, per NBA report
INDIANAPOLIS — The last day of Lance Stephenson's 10-day hardship contract with the Pacers is Monday, but he's not going anywhere.
NBA reporter Marc Stein, formerly of the New York Times and ESPN, reported Sunday that Indiana intends to keep Stephenson through the end of the season.
This decision is a no-brainer for the Pacers' front office, which opened up a roster spot by waiving reserve swingman Kelan Martin on Thursday. Stephenson has played four games during his 10-day deal, and the past two have been some of the best of his career. The 6-5 guard, who was drafted 40th overall by Indiana in 2010 and is in his third stint with the franchise, scored an NBA-record 20 points off the bench in the first quarter Wednesday against Brooklyn and followed it up Saturday by dishing a career-high 14 assists against Utah.
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"As soon as I put that jersey on I feel like I just get my powers," Stephenson said after scoring 30 points, three shy of his career high, against the Nets on Wednesday. "I don't know what it is. Every time I put that jersey on I just feel comfortable, and when you playing in front of people that's happy for you to play and egging you on, it just makes the game more easier."
Stephenson has also been wearing his old custom Pacers sneakers with his nickname, Born Ready, printed on them.
"These is the AND1s I was wearing when I was on the Pacers years ago," Stephenson said. "These are the same ones. So I'mma just keep rocking with these. These are my Like Mikes right now."
Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said he tried to recruit Stephenson in free agency in 2014 when he was still Dallas' coach, but aside from that he had minimal interaction with Stephenson. So far, Stephenson has made a strong impression.
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The 10-year NBA veteran dished seven assists in the fourth quarter Saturday to help Indiana snap a six-game losing streak with a 125-113 victory over the Jazz at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
"Lance has given us a different vibe as a team," Carlisle said. "The spark that he has provided, the personality ... There's a change in our team, a change in the disposition, the body language, the enthusiasm, and so it's been great to see."
Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him via email: [email protected]