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Larry Bird says Lance Stephenson wants to stay in Indiana, it’s just a question of money

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game 6

MIAMI, FL - MAY 30: Lance Stephenson #1 of the Indiana Pacers looks on from the bench against the Miami Heat during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 30, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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It’s all about the money. The paper. The Benjamins. How many bands are we talking?

Lance Stephenson is a restricted free agent and the Indiana Pacers kind of need to bring him back because they need his shot creation skills for a team otherwise short in that department. The problem is even if he leaves the Pacers are over the cap so Larry Bird’s hands would be somewhat tied in trying to replace what Stephenson brings.

But neither side wants to part ways, Bird said after the draft Friday night when asked about free agency and getting a new contract with Stephenson, as reported by Scott Agness of

Stephenson’s agent would be smart to wait it out here, not rush the decision.

There are teams out there with Carmelo Anthony (and maybe LeBron James) dreams who are going to swing and miss on their first targets then be searching for a player to bring in, provide some good play and help the GM save face. Stephenson can benefit from that and drive up his price — “We just landed a 23-year-old borderline All-Star who averaged 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, and he is still improving.” A GM can sell that to the fans and to his owner. Even if he overpaid a little to get him.

The Pacers can match any offer but again, at what price? And how much does Stephenson’s maturity issues play into that number?

What about $10 million a year for four years? Or $11 million? Of $12 million? At what point does Bird throw in his cards and say “too rich for my blood.”

It’s going to be an interesting free agency.