The Indiana Pacers just might have gotten better, at least long term, on Wednesday when guard Lance Stephenson signed with the Charlotte Hornets.
Indiana offered Stephenson a significant contract, both in terms of length and money. But his ego got in the way.
He honestly believes he was the best player on the roster for the Pacers a year ago. He wasn't.
He thinks the offer should have been in Paul George's territory. It shouldn't.
He believes he will get a maximum offer in three years when this new pact expires. He won't.
One talking head on ESPN Wednesday said that Stephenson would add aggression, toughness and playmaking to the Hornets. He will. Then that same head told the TV audience that he will be looked at as a leader. I don't even need to contradict this one.
Stephenson is about as far from being a leader as is humanly possible, unless you think a leader should not care about the team's success or the talent of his teammates.
Everything Stephenson does is all about Stephenson all the time. His actions on the court are designed to post individual numbers and attract attention to himself. He might not have been responsible for the Pacers' imploding a season ago, but his actions did nothing to prevent it from happening either.
Stephenson's points, assists and rebounds will be difficult to replace, especially considering that the money available to sign players is not abundant. As a result, Indiana might not reach the Eastern Conference finals this coming seasons.
Yet, in terms of team chemistry and successfully removing a distraction and potential cancer from the lockerroom, the departure may produce a more unified squad that can grow into a more consistently pleasing team.
Make no mistake, Stephenson was not the cause of everything bad that happened to Indiana after the All-Star break. There is plenty of blame for that to go around. It involves Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Larry Bird; literally every player except David West and CJ Watson.