Sources close to the situation say Indians remains optimistic that the new Designated Player Exception will allow them to retain George long-term, assuming he makes one of the All-NBA teams this season.
The new veteran-designated-player rule could allow the Pacers to pay George $219,240,000 over five years ($43,848,000annually) beginning in 2018.* Another team could offer just $139,320,000 over four years ($34,830,000 annually).*
*Based on a projected 2018-19 salary cap of $108 million.
But George must make an All-NBA team this season to qualify for a designated-player extension next summer. An All-NBA selection next season would also allow him to receive the same contract terms in 2018 free agency rather than via extension.
Don’t take an All-NBA appearance for granted, though. George must compete with Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan at forward. Some of those players could also receive votes at guard or center, but it’s still a crowded field.
As excellent as George is, he’s nowhere near a lock. In fact, I would have a relatively easy time leaving him off an All-NBA team this season. That’d put a lot of pressure on him – and the Pacers – next season. They wouldn’t know whether they hold the designated-player advantage in his free agency until after the season – i.e., after the trade deadline.
If George makes an All-NBA team this season, the Pacers will have plenty of reason for optimism. At minimum, they’ll know where they stand if he rejects an extension.
But if George falls short this year, Indiana shouldn’t feel quite so comfortable with its position.