- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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Nearly a week after the Indiana Pacers offered talented but controversial guard Lance Stephenson a five-year, $44 million contract, the two sides remain far apart on a deal, according to sources close to the situation.
Although his desire is to remain with the Pacers, a disappointed Stephenson began exploring the free-agent market after receiving what he felt was a low-ball offer on Tuesday, sources said.
Stephenson has drawn interest from the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers, although both teams have other free agents prioritized above Stephenson, according to sources. The Boston Celtics have also shown interest in Stephenson, according to a source.
Dallas, believing it likely will lose out on both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, will attempt to sign Chandler Parsons away from the Houston Rockets. The Mavericks also have Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza in their sights, sources said.
But Stephenson has also recently emerged as a target of the Mavericks. A month ago, or even a few weeks ago, Stephenson was not on Dallas' radar, but over the past few days the Mavericks have registered their interest, according to sources.
Dallas is intrigued by Stephenson's versatility. He led the NBA in triple-doubles with five last season, and his 7.2 rebounds per game, highest among the league's guards, could help a Mavericks team that was among the league's worst in rebounding.
Like the Mavericks, the Lakers are targeting the summer's superstars -- James and Anthony -- ahead of Stephenson. They also have an interest in Deng and Ariza, but Stephenson remains a possibility should their other plans fail to materialize.
Meanwhile, the Pacers have not let their stalemate with Stephenson stop them from spending elsewhere. Last week, they agreed with guard C.J. Miles on a four-year, $18 million contract and added Croatian forward Damjan Rudez and center Lavoy Allen.
Thus far, the Pacers have been unwilling to increase their offer to Stephenson, and some league sources say they will not move from that stance.
Stephenson, for his part, believes he'll be an All-Star next season and is worth well above the $7.6 million the Pacers' offer would pay him.