Evan Turner and Lance Stephenson got into a pre-playoff fight on the practice court 24 hours before game one against the Hawks, a skirmish that was broken up by Luis Scola and David West. According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Turner and Stephenson – two wing guards who are looking to get paid this offseason – exchanged punches:
Two Indiana Pacers dragged a cursing, cut Evan Turner out of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court, untangling him from a practice-floor fistfight with teammate Lance Stephenson.
Turner hadn’t been the first Pacer to lose his temper with Stephenson these tumultuous several weeks, and Stephenson’s relentlessly irritable nature suggests Turner won’t be the last.
The new guy (Turner) fighting the cocky kid from Brooklyn (Stephenson) isn’t a huge surprise, especially since “Born Ready” has been cryptically fingered as selfish by other teammates during Indiana’s unfathomable fall from grace over the last seven weeks. Nobody’s been able to pinpoint exactly why the wheels came off for the Pacers, and the guess here is that it was a confluence of events centering around Stephenson:
* What was a great “team” last year where everyone shared all the credit became Paul George’s team (after this dunk?) with Roy Hibbert getting the next-most ink
* Everyone laughs, but this GQ photo shoot is telling: Paul George, ‘the star’ in the middle, and Stephenson off to the side as a wingman, when he clearly thinks of himself as a star, Mr. Triple-Double, all that
* You can toss the Bynum acquisition and Turner trade and loss of Danny Granger into a “chemistry” discussion
* George and the alleged stripper/catfishing situation also probably deserves a mention … you don’t need social media PG!
Ultimately, I feel this will all come back to Stephenson, the former high school star who ended up at Cincinnati, fell to the second round, and didn’t appear to have much of an NBA future after his first two seasons. He really broke out last season at the age of 22 and exploded this season – 13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.6 apg – at the perfect time because he’s a free agent in July. He’s going to want to get paid handsomely, and Larry Bird’s Pacers will face a difficult decision – with David West aging and Evan Turner probably not coming back, what do you do with Stephenson, the pouty-but-talented, fearless-at-both-ends player who you need?
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