So, if he wants to stay in Indiana, his potential paths look relatively straightforward:
If he makes an All-NBA team this season, he can sign a designated-veteran-player extension that would kick in in 2018-19 and projects be worth about $209 million over five years (about $42 million annually).
If he doesn’t make an All-NBA team this season, he can wait to sign and try again to make one next season. If he does, he can sign a new contract in 2018 that would be worth the same $209 million or so over the same five-year period.
I think it’s this simple: If he becomes eligible to become a designated veteran player, he’ll sign then. If not, 2018 free agency projects to offer a choice of about $179 million over five years (about $36 million annually) to re-sign or about $133 million over four years (about $33 million annually) to sign elsewhere — a more difficult decision.
George says he’s not thinking about earning the higher max.
“You want to be one of the best,” George said. “And that’s the only motivation. You want to be All-NBA. That’s what you strive for. That’s what you want to play for, to be recognized as one of the league’s best players.”
That’s no small challenge for George, who was one of 12 All-Star forwards this year, joining:
- LeBron James
- Kawhi Leonard
- Kevin Durant
- Anthony Davis
- Jimmy Butler
- Draymond Green
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Gordon Hayward
- Paul Millsap
- Kevin Love
- Carmelo Anthony
With only six All-NBA forward spots, George faces long odds this season — and no easy path next season.
But at least eligibility for the higher max coincides with one of his goals.
“It’s nice. It’s nice,” George said. “But that’s not the motivation you want to play for”