A couple of months ago, Paul George caused hypertension to rise dramatically in Indiana when he admitted that there was some allure to suiting up for this home town Los Angeles Lakers. But he has always maintained that he loves Indiana, and was trying to work out a deal to stay for the long-haul.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the Pacers have made that decision pretty easy for him by throwing him max money.
All-Star forward Paul George and the Indiana Pacers are finalizing a five-year, $90 million-plus maximum contract extension, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
A deal is expected to be signed this week, league sources told Yahoo.
For the Pacers and George, who was voted the 2013 NBA Most Improved Player, the five-year deal will cement the gifted young forward as Indiana's designated franchise player. George's extension will begin with the 2014-15 season. He will make $3.2 million this season.
That $90 million could actually be more if George meets the "Rose Rule" threshold, as explained in great detail by Tim Donohue here.
This was a no-brainer move for the Pacers. George is a budding superstar with the potential to carry the franchise into the playoffs for the duration of his contract. It has taken him a few years to blossom into this role, but astute NBA observers expect George to make an even greater leap forward in his development.
How good can George be? Says one East scout: “He can be a Top 5, maybe even a Top 3 type of player. He still has so much raw talent, and he was a late bloomer so you can see he still plays on instinct sometimes. He is far from a finished product. He will be a great player, but I think the important thing to keep in mind is that we’re talking about Scottie Pippen great, not Michael Jordan great. He could be a lot like Pippen, but to get there, he has a lot to do, a lot of work. He can be elite, but he has to plug up some big holes in his game."
The Pacers are banking on George and Roy Hibbert to be the cornerstones of this franchise moving forward. Yes, George is still growing into his role as a franchise guy, but he and Hibbert could form a deadly inside/out combination for Indy.
From there, it will then become a question of what the Pacers are willing to do to build around them. It will be interesting now to see what they do with Lance Stephenson, who has also emerged as a key role player. They have some nice mid-level guys in the fold right now, but they really only have a couple of seasons left fefore decisions have to be made.
The CBA is waiting to smite the big spenders. The Pacers have done well to manage their finances so far, even with the big contracts for Hibbert and now George. If George can make that leap into perennial All-Star and franchise wing, the Pacers could ride his ability to raise the games of people around him and be a long-term contender without having to spend like a Russian billionaire.