When Lance Stephenson opted to sign a three-year, $27 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets, we could've never foreseen how hard Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird would take the loss. Back in June, Bird made it clear that he wanted Stephenson to resign with the team, but when talks broke down after Born Ready turned down a five-year, $44 million contract from the Pacers, it looked like his time in Indy was coming to an end.
Now, Stephenson is in Charlotte and in a recent conversation with USA TODAY, Bird seems to be taking Lance's departure pretty hard. Check out what he had to say below.
“I really feel bad about losing him,” Bird said. “I hope it doesn’t interfere with our relationship. But I did what I could possibly do to keep him here. Even if he didn’t have any other offers, I was committed to giving him that $44 million because I believe in the kid. If you look at our roster, we have five or six guys in the last year of their deals, plus David (West) and Roy (Hibbert) can opt out, so don’t you think I wanted to keep Lance and Paul (George) locked into long-term deals?”
“It’s just disappointing,” Bird said. “When I’d go to practices, when he was on, he was by far our best player. And he worked. If you work as hard as he does, you’re going to get better. I’m going to miss the kid, no question. And he’s growing up. That stuff he pulled in the playoffs, that was out of the blue. But I knew how good Lance was and the value he brought to our team.”
Someone give Larry a hug, an ear blow, something.