The Memphis Grizzlies have declined the $9.4 million team option on guard/forward Lance Stephenson, according to a source close to the team.
The Grizzlies acquired Stephenson from the Los Angeles Clippers prior to February’s NBA Trade Deadline. After struggling to find playing time with the Clippers, Stephenson enjoyed a good sting with the Grizzlies that saw him average 14.2 points and 4.4 rebounds rebounds from the final 26 games of the regular season.
Lance Stephenson can still return…
According to The Vertical, Memphis declined the option to open up enough cap space to offer point guard a five-year maximum contract when free agency begins on Friday. It’s likely that Memphis re-sign the former Indian Pacers wing later in July when other marquee free agents are off the board.
“There remains interest in a possible return to the Grizzlies as well as interest from other organizations, sources said. Stephenson showed with Memphis that he can have an impact as a playmaker and source of energy,” reported Shams Charania.
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Cavs an interesting option?
The Grizzly Bears Blues noted on Monday that the Cleveland Cavaliers could be an interesting option for Lance Stephenson, since they own a $10 million trade exception. “They (Cavs) have the only significant trade exception in the league, and they have so much salary on the books that they will still be well over the salary cap after re-signing Lebron James. They do retain a $9,638,554 trade exception for dumping Anderson Varejao for nothing, so for one year after that trade (February, 18th 2017) they can take back at least that much in salary without sending any out in return.”
Incidentally, those trade talks are now irrelevant since Grizzlies have declined Stephenson’s option.
Stephenson, drafted with the 40th overall pick in 2010, was an integral part of the Indiana Pacers teams that made back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 2013 and 2014. After his sold showing with the Pacers, Stephenson took his talents to Charlotte Hornets, who signed the Brooklyn native to a 3-year $27 million deal in July 2014.
The Hornets traded Stephenson to Clippers, who eventually traded the Brooklyn native to the Grizzlies. Stephenson’s contract had a team option on the final year.
Where will Lance Stephenson play next season?