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INDIANAPOLIS — Hours before hosting the Suns at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Friday, the Pacers signed Lance Stephenson to a third 10-day contract.
Stephenson previously signed two 10-day contracts on Jan. 1 and Tuesday under the NBA's COVID-19-related hardship exception, but since Indiana no longer has any players in the health and safety protocols, it had to sign Stephenson to a standard 10-day deal so that his salary counts against the team's salary cap.
Stephenson’s signing also fills the team’s open roster spot, which was created after waiving former Butler star Kelan Martin on Jan. 6.
When asked if he'd like to see Stephenson stick around for the rest of the season, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said, "Sure, yeah."
Stephenson was drafted 40th overall by Indiana in 2010 and is in his third stint with the franchise. He scored an NBA-record 20 points off the bench in the first quarter against the Nets on Jan. 5 and dished a career-high 14 assists against the Jazz on Jan. 8. Stephenson is averaging 12.8 points, 5.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds, while shooting 47.8% overall and 30.8% from beyond the arc through six games.
"He's brought an infusion of energy, appreciation for the opportunity (to play for Indiana)," Carlisle said. "Our fans obviously love him and connect to him in a very special way. This has been a great story, and he's given us a real boost."
The Pacers continue to do permissible short-term deals with Stephenson to maintain roster flexibility as they engage in trade talk on various fronts with the ongoing expectation Lance will ultimately be signed for the rest of the season.
More trade talk: https://t.co/3A6WkA2xpL https://t.co/zcB84hApoD
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 14, 2022
NBA reporter Marc Stein, formerly of ESPN and The New York Times, reported that Indiana still intends to keep Stephenson through the end of its campaign.
"The Pacers continue to do permissible short-term deals with Stephenson to maintain roster flexibility as they engage in trade talk on various fronts with the ongoing expectation Lance will ultimately be signed for the rest of the season,” Stein tweeted.
Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him via email: email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers sign Lance Stephenson to third 10-day contract