Larry Bird was not happy with Lance Stephenson after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Even though the Pacers beat the Heat during that game, Bird didn't like to see Stephenson trying to get inside of LeBron James' head by blowing into his ear.
"I was very disappointed that in Game 5, Paul George put on a spectacular display, hit every big shot, and after the game, everyone was talking about all the nonsense," he said yesterday. "That's not what we're about, and it's not professional."
But despite that, Bird still wants Stephenson back in Indiana next season. And he made that perfectly clear on Monday when he was asked about the free agent-to-be's future with the Pacers.
"I think his ceiling is what he wants it to be," Bird said. "I always want him back. You just don't let talent like that walk away if you can help it."
Will the Pacers be able to bring him back, though? Or, better yet, will the Pacers be able to afford him? The good thing—for them, at least—is that Stephenson probably cost himself quite a bit of money by blowing into LeBron's ear and carrying on during the Pacers/Heat series. So Indiana will be able to sign him at a bit of a discount this offseason, if they so choose. But even with that in mind, there might be someone out there willing to overpay him this summer, in which case they might not be able to afford to keep him around.
It'll be interesting to see how much the Pacers are willing to offer to Stephenson—and whether or not he'll be willing to accept what they're prepared to give him. Stay tuned.
[via Eye on Basketball]