Larry Bird sat down with NBA.com's Mark Montieth, and the resulting conversation was an insightful peek into Legend's always-astute psyche. One of the topics discussed was the future of fourth-year guard Lance Stephenson, who has been a bit of a revelation this season after a promising performance in last year's playoffs.
Stephenson is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and many are wondering how the Pacers plan to keep their young starter. Bird told Montieth that he doesn't "know what's going to happen this summer."
"We want to keep him and he wants to be here. This is the best environment for him. We will make him a great offer, an offer that I think is very fair. If you look at our books, how does anyone know what's going to happen in the summer. How do they know we're not going to make trades or have more money or less money. We will try to sign Lance, but I don't worry about it. If Lance is not here, we'll get somebody else."
Stephenson is averaging 12 points, six rebounds and five assists while connecting on a career-high 35 percent of his three-point attempts. He will make a hair over $1 million this season and is in line for a major pay raise.
The Pacers, however, according to ShamSports' database, are set to pay out nearly $66 million in contracts next season. That's not including any sort of pay raise for Stephenson.
The projected salary cap is set for $62.1 million, which leaves Indiana without much with which to sign Stephenson, unless they are willing to pay a tax. If the Pacers aren't willing to hit the tax, they can always trade salaries to create enough wiggle room to sign Stephenson.
If Indiana chooses not to sign the former Bearcat, then they will -- as Bird said -- get somebody else to fill that position.