The Indiana Pacers made it apparent early on in NBA Free Agency that they had intentions of bringing back 23-year-old shooting guard Lance Stephenson. Even after signing C.J. Miles, the Pacers’ five-year, $44 million offer to Stephenson seemed quite indicative that they wanted the enigmatic player back on their roster for next season and the future. The Charlotte Hornets erased that option, though.
Stephenson signed with the Hornets on Wednesday and left the Pacers having to pursue other options. Miles is a solid player, but he’s not suited to solely fill the role and play the minutes that Stephenson did in Indiana. He’s better as part of a rotation where he can play a sizeable but limited amount of minutes. Subsequently, the Pacers are in need of another wing.
According to a report from ESPN’s Marc Stein, free agent Rodney Stuckey is the guy that the Pacers have immediately turned their eye to after Stephenson signed with Charlotte. Stuckey isn’t the youthful talent that Stephenson is, but he could be solid as a tandem with Miles.
UPDATE: Stuckey has indeed signed a one-year deal with Indiana, per USA Today Sports.
Last season with the Detroit Pistons, Stuckey had a solid year amidst a train wreck of a team. The 28-year-old put up 13.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.7 steals in 26.7 minutes per game while shooting 43.6 percent from the field and turning the ball over only 1.9 times per contest.
Stuckey has proven over his years in the league that he can be an energy guy off of the bench on a solid team and is best-suited for that type of role. He doesn’t have the outside-shooting of Stephenson and lacks the rebounding that Stephenson gives at the position, but he can do positive things for the Pacers, including helping an inconsistent offense.
The Pacers are likely going to be linked to other guys other than Stuckey in the coming days, but the former Piston is certainly a solid option. If there’s mutual interest between the two, signing Stuckey to a reasonable deal might be Indiana’s best chance of saving a little face and staying at least close to the same level with Stephenson leaving.