Paul George just made $6,788,165*

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Paul George is having a good day.

The Pacers forward just made $6,788,165.*

*That number, and numbers in this post, are based on the NBA’s latest cap projection. When the league reviews its books and sets the actual salary cap in July, these numbers will change slightly.

By making the All-NBA third-team, George will earn more money on the five-year contract extension he signed before the season. As detailed previously, that extension set George’s 2014-15 salary to rise from 25 to 27 percent of the salary cap if he qualified for the Derrick Rose rule. By making an All-NBA team – the second of his career – he qualified.

The yellow line shows what George will make the next five seasons (27% of the max). The blue line shows what he would have made if he missed the All-NBA teams (25% of the max).

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Season 25% max 27% max
2014-15 $14,756,881 $15,937,431
2015-16 $15,863,647 $17,132,738
2016-17 $16,970,413 $18,328,046
2017-18 $18,077,179 $19,523,353
2018-19 $19,183,945 $20,718,660
Total $84,852,064 $91,640,229

Unfortunately for the Pacers, George’s good news is not their own.

They’ll owe George an extra $1,180,550 next season, cutting into their leeway for re-signing Lance Stephenson while avoiding the luxury tax (projected to start at $77 million).

Let’s say the Pacers keep all 10 players they have under contract for next season,* sign the No. 57 pick to a minimum contract and fill out a 13-player roster with one more minimum-salary free agent.

To avoid paying the luxury tax, that would leave $8,442,470 for Stephenson’s starting salary. Based on the length of the deal, here’s the most he could earn without forcing Indiana into the tax range:

  • One-year contract: $8,442,470
  • Two-year contract: $17,518,125
  • Three-year contract: $27,226,965
  • Four-year contract: $37,568,991
  • Five-year contract: $48,544,202

*George, Roy Hibbert, David West, George Hill, Luis Scola, Ian Mahinmi, Chris Copeland, C.J. Watson, Solomon Hill and Donald Sloan

If the Pacers need to offer Stephenson more money, they could waive Scola ($940,946 guaranteed) and replace him with a minimum-salary player. That would grant Indiana $3,953,256 in additional room below the tax line.

In that case, the Pacers could give Stephenson a starting salary of $11,454,780 and avoid the tax. Depending on length of the deal, that would look like (max):

  • One-year contract: $11,454,780
  • Two-year contract: $23,768,668
  • Three-year contract: $36,941,665
  • Four-year contract: $50,973,771
  • Five-year contract: $65,864,984

That should be enough wiggle room to re-sign Stephenson – though it leaves an opening for a preying opponent to poach him. Stephenson’s max starting salary next season is projected to be $14,756,881 – the same amount George avoided by making an All-NBA team. The Pacers would have to do more than just waive Scola to offer Stephenson his max.

Plus, if re-signing Stephenson requires waiving Scola, that wouldn’t leave much room under the tax line to upgrade the team elsewhere. Without making other moves, it’s unlikely Indiana could use its full mid-level exception ($5,305,000) without crossing the tax line.

However, the tax is not assessed until the end of the season. The Pacers could begin the year with a payroll over $77 million and figure out the rest as they go. Would they take that risk? I don’t know.

Paul George is having a good day. Because of it, the Pacers face a summer of tough(er) decisions.

Watch Paul George lose JR Smith, put Cavaliers guard on skates with crossover

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Game 4 between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was hotly-contested in the first half. The Cavaliers led, 58-52, after two quarters.

But one special play came when Indiana’s Paul George put JR Smith on his heels, with the Cavaliers guard reeling back some 10 feet after a pull-back crossover left George alone at the 3-point line.

Via Twitter:

You might say George pushed off with his left hand, but you could also point out that Smith then turned a flop-like head kick into an actual blown defensive assignment.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Kobe Bryant’s new Canvas video is brought to you by the letter O (for Obsession)

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Kobe Bryant’s Canvas series returned to our television screen on Saturday. The Sesame Street-like videos center around finding a place to draw motivation from in order to, as the most recent video says, dominate the will of your opponent.

They’re … weird.

They are also extremely Kobe-ish in that they stay true to the former Los Angeles Lakers great’s internal vision of how to play basketball.

The last one we saw was all about finding a musecage, and using your dark thoughts to propel you to win. This one is all about obsession, and how that emotion separates those who like to win from true competitors.

I’m personally all for these videos. They are maybe a little cheesy, or single-minded, but that’s sort of the point. It accurately reflects Kobe, which is something you don’t often see from retired players trying to transition their brand from player to former player.

Isaiah Thomas scores 33, Celtics beat Bulls 104-95 to tie series

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CHICAGO (AP) Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists. Nikola Mirotic and seldom-used Isaiah Canaan each scored 13 points, but Dwyane Wade finished with just 11.

Canaan made his first appearance since April 10, with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg searching for help at point guard with Rajon Rondo missing his second straight game because of a broken right thumb.

The Celtics led by 20 in the second quarter and were still up 10 in the third when Chicago scored 12 straight. The Bulls went ahead 65-63 on Robin Lopez‘s hook shot with 4:35 left in the quarter.

Thomas answered with back-to-back layups and scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that gave the Celtics a 75-65 lead, and they withstood a push by the Bulls early in the fourth.

With Thomas and Green each scoring 16 in the first half, the Celtics carried a 57-46 lead into the break.

Butler led the Bulls with 17 in the half. But the offense struggled in a big way with Rondo unavailable. Jerian Grant started and went to the bench after about five ineffective minutes. Michael Carter-Williams then picked up two quick fouls, forcing the Bulls to go with Canaan in the first quarter.

The Celtics, meanwhile, led 41-21 early in the second quarter. But things started to turn after Canaan stole the ball from Marcus Smart and scored on a layup.

Smart feigned throwing the ball at Butler. The two came nose to nose, resulting in technical fouls for both players, and the Bulls started to shoot their way back into it.

Mirotic hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight in the quarter. Bobby Portis cut it to 52-42 with his basket late in the half, and Butler hit two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to make it 57-46.

RONDO FINED

The NBA fined Rondo for attempting to trip Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3. Crowder jawed at the Bulls’ bench after hitting a jumper and Rondo extended his leg as Crowder walked by.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Thomas was just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers but made 12 of 13 free throws.

Bulls: Butler made 19 of 23 foul shots after failing to get to the line in Game 3. … Canaan was inactive for the first three games.

LeBron James swats Thaddeus Young on yet another chasedown block (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is The King, but he’s also the king of chasedown blocks in the NBA. During Sunday’s Game 4 matchup with the Indiana Pacers, the Cleveland Cavaliers star dropped the hammer yet again on an unsuspecting opponent.

The victim this time was Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, who was out on a 2-on-2 break with LeBron trailing.

To be honest, Young should have known better than to try this.

Via Twitter:

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.