Lance Stephenson reunited with Pacers

Lance will join the Pacers in Cleveland on Saturday.

Hate him or love him, Lance Stephenson is an Indiana Pacer… again.

Whether you like Indiana’s signing of Stephenson to a reported 3-year, $12 million deal is irrelevant; the veteran and former Pacer is set to join the team in Cleveland for Sunday’s matchup against the Cavaliers, according to the team’s official website.

Stephenson, 26, was taken with the 40th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by Indiana. Pacers president Larry Bird took a chance on Stephenson, his off court issues and every other questionable detail that traveled with him.

Following four seasons with the Pacers, Stephenson opted to test the free agent market and landed with the Charlotte Hornets. His career spiraled from there as he bounced around between five different franchises over the next two-plus seasons, leading him back to the forefront of Bird’s radar screen.

I could reminisce on Stephenson’s NBA career for the next three hours, but enough of that. Allow me to speculate on what he could bring to Indiana moving forward (Reminder: the Pacers are barely treading water going into April).

Many of you may be excited for the return of “Born Ready,” his self-proclaimed nickname. Others likely oppose the move Bird made to bring Stephenson back, and that’s OK also.

For starters, all Stephenson did during his third and fourth seasons in The Association was improve.

The University of Cincinnati product went from seeing the floor sparingly and intermittently his first two seasons to averaging 8.8 and 13.8 points per game, respectively, over his next two campaigns.

Also during years three and four in his first stint with Indiana, Stephenson’s rebounding average leaped from 3.9 in 2012-13 to 7.2 in 2013-14. His court vision saw an improvement also, from 2.9 assists per game to 4.6 per game over that same span, according to

Aside from his basic statistical output, Stephenson brought the energy and passion every night. On a team littered with defensive-minded athletes in George Hill, David West, Roy Hibbert and a young Paul George, the Pacers needed a spark and Stephenson answered that call nearly every time.

His entertaining change-of-pace, street-ball mindset likely wouldn’t have blended well with any other playoff team in his last two seasons playing with that group – coached by defensive guru Frank Vogel.

But they were in the playoffs. And they were competitive.

Maybe most importantly, the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana rallied behind their team, often standing and cheering – loudly – for extended periods of times during those runs.

I will not shy away from his inconsistencies and behavior, either.

Rumors swirled that Stephenson butted heads with multiple teammates from that Pacers era.

There were also the confrontations with opposing players, most notably LeBron James, and nights Stephenson failed to show any enthusiasm or hustle whatsoever.

Nevertheless, the arrow is currently pointing down for the 2016-17 Pacers, and Born Ready may just come to the rescue.

All eyes are on George, but his old pal Stephenson is anxious to put that blue and gold back on.

Plenty of questions remain to be answered in regards to Stephenson’s health, maturity and ability to earn meaningful minutes. In spite of these questions, Stephenson still carries levels of excitement and passion that seem to be lacking among this team.

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