After capturing the media spotlight during the NBA Eastern Conference Final with his on- and off-court taunting of LeBron James, shooting guard Lance Stephenson has left the Indiana Pacers for the Charlotte Hornets. The 6’ 5”, 230 lb Stephenson has reportedly signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Hornets.
While Stephenson’s attitude may entertain media and aggravate coaches, his recent numbers have been impressive, particularly in the paint where he produced 53% of his points last season. Overall, Stephenson recorded a solid 13.8 points per game on 49.1% shooting.
Meanwhile, the debate is just getting started as to whether the signing of power forward Pau Gasol will make the Chicago Bulls legitimate NBA championship contenders. Gasol has left the Los Angeles Lakers, reportedly inking a three-year, $22 million deal with the Bulls.
While Gasol alone won’t bring a title back to the Windy City, Gasol alongside a healthy Derrick Rose will certainly fuel the annual optimism that arises at the United Center every October. Gasol’s 17.4 PPG, along with 9.7 rebounds per game will also have an impact, as will him being paired with all-star center Joakim Noah.
The Washington Wizards surprised many observers by winning the Paul Pierce sweepstakes, signing the 36 year-old forward to a two-year, $10 million contact.
While Pierce is clearly entering the twilight of his NBA career, he will still play a valuable role for a Wizards’ squad recovering from the loss of forward Trevor Ariza, who departed the nation’s capital for Houston, where he agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with the Rockets.
Ariza is coming off the best year of his NBA career in 2013/2014, when he averaged 14.4 PPG and 6.2 rebounds shooting 40.7%.
Pierce struggled last season, his first and only with the Brooklyn Nets, who acquired him along with Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics in the biggest blockbuster deal of the 2013 off-season.
However, the short term and low cost of Pierce’s contract, which includes a player option in 2015/2016, along with Pierce’s ability to play both sides of the ball, may make it one of the best small signings of this NBA offseason.
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