I'm firmly in the don't overpay camp. Doing so is really punishment under the current CBA and Mitch is to be commended for not wanting to go there.
As far as spending on Stephenson, Monroe or Bledsoe, I'd only be looking at Monroe and I wouldn't be looking to pay him max. Bledsoe is nice, but not worth $12m; his ceiling is 3rd or 4th best player on a title team, don't want to be paying a guy like that $10m or more unless and until the Lakers have the 2nd certifiable superstar next to Kobe. And Bledsoe is *not* that guy. By the same token, I'm not sold on Stephenson either. $8m would be the very most I'd pay him, he wants more, he can get it somewhere else. The point is don't be eating the cap with perimeter based players before the team has a paint presence.
Which is where Monroe comes in. Get Randle at 7, put Monroe next to him, that's a viable front court pairing and would definitely be worth looking at.
My take is good bigs are far more essential to championship title hopes than good smalls. And so sorry, that's all Bledsoe and Stephenson are, good smalls, not great ones. Got to get the big superstar to put next to Kobe first, then fill in around the two of them and the #7 pick. I'm good with rentals until then.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.