When the All-NBA teams were announced on Thursday, perhaps the biggest storyline involves a player that wasn’t honored.
Despite averaging 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game this season for the Indiana Pacers while leading them to the playoffs, forward Paul George didn’t end up with enough votes to become one of the 15 players on the three All-NBA teams.
As a result, he will lose out on $70 million and the Indiana Pacers might have very well lost out on their leverage that could have convinced George to stay in Indy after his contract expires next summer.
“Had George made one of the three teams, he would have qualified for the new Designated Player Extension that is part of the new collective bargaining agreement that starts July 1. That designation would've allowed the Pacers to offer George the richest contract in NBA history -- and add up to five years and approximately $210 million to his contract.”
Ouch. That's a ton of money.
That would have been roughly $75 million more than another team could offer George if he decided to sign elsewhere. (This new provision was implemented after Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency last summer in an attempt to incentivize superstars to remain loyal to their current franchises.)
While the Pacers can still offer an extension to George this summer, they don’t have much of a financial advantage anymore. Therefore, there’s a strong possibility that they test the trade market for him this summer, and if necessary, during next season prior to the trade deadline in order to get a return for him before his contract expires.
In the best-case scenario for the Pacers, George will still re-sign with them and maintain his status as the long-term face of the franchise. However, if they're able to deal him, they will likely get quite the return back for him and could potentially set themselves up for a full rebuild. But, in the worst-case scenario, George will play out his final year in Indy and then bolt, leaving the franchise with nothing at all in return.
According to Windhorst, there are still a few ways that the Pacers could offer George the max deal of 200-plus million, but it requires a bit of a risk on their part. If he makes an All-NBA team next year or if he’s the MVP or Defensive Player of the year, he qualifies.
But, is it worth the risk? That remains to be seen.