Back in July, Paul George did in fact say that “it would be tough to say no to Kobe” if the Lakers came calling when he potentially entered the summer of 2014 as a restricted free agent.
There was no panic in PacerLand, however, because George qualified that statement by saying how happy he is playing in Indiana, and later made it clear that he has no intention of leaving the team any time soon.
George could let this season play out before becoming a restricted free agent next summer, but the Pacers would simply match any offer he would receive. Or, he could avoid all that by signing a long-term extension to stay with the team before the October 31 deadline to do so.
“(A long-term contract) is going to get done,” George told The Indianapolis Star. “There will be a deal signed and sealed on the table before the season. We’re (George and Pacers management) on the same page.” …
Pacers President Larry Bird said earlier this week he hopes to reach a deal before the season because it would remove a potential distraction and give George a sense of security that many players crave — including Bird himself during his Hall of Fame career with the Boston Celtics.
“We are working on it now,” Bird said. “We’ve got a way set up where we definitely think we can get something done, but it’s going to have to work for both parties.”
The Pacers, of course, are coming off of a season that saw them push the eventual champion Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
George was a big part of that, and even received mid-game, on-court dap from LeBron James during a particularly competitive sequence between the two teams’ respective stars.
The Pacers are on the rise, and added depth this offseason. Roy Hibbert might be the team’s most dominant presence, but George is its star player, capable of spectacular things. It’s wise for the Pacers to lock him up with a long-term deal as soon as he’ll sign, and it’s great for the franchise that he doesn’t want to play anywhere else.