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Paul George misses All-NBA, throwing Pacers’ future into peril

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The Pacers’ recent mediocrity and the lure of his hometown Lakers threaten to end Paul George‘s tenure in Indiana.

The whims of a few media members just drove the wedge a little deeper.

The NBA released All-NBA voting today, and George – who’s now almost certain to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent in 2018 – fell short. The voting points at forward:

As a result, George will be ineligible for a designated-veteran-player extension – removing an arrow from the Pacers’ quiver. They can still offer him more money than other teams, but the advantage is not as significant as it would have been had George made an All-NBA team.

Here are the projected amounts George, who’s under contracted for $19,508,958 next season, could earn or could have earned with:

  • A designated-veteran-player extension (black)
  • Re-signing (gold)
  • Signing elsewhere (blue)

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What do the Pacers do now?

It’d be foolish for George to sign an extension this offseason. The most he could sign for is $104,880,158 over four years. He could earn more by opting out next year and signing a new contract, with Indiana or another team.

George could still get the designated-veteran-player rate (a projected $207 million over five years) on a new deal next summer – if he makes an All-NBA team next season. But the Pacers won’t know whether he qualifies until this time next year, when it’s too late to trade him.

Would they rather deal him first and guarantee a return? Or would they ride this out until the end, risking losing him for nothing?

No matter what happens with 2017-18 All-NBA, George’s max with another team next summer projects to be $132 million over four years (about $33 million annually). His max with the Pacers projects to be $177 million over five years (about $35 million annually) or, if he qualifies as a designated veteran player by making an All-NBA team, $207 million over five years (about $41 million annually). So, Indiana will have a financial advantage if it lets George play out his contract and hit free agency – just not necessarily one large enough to persuade him to stay.

George might prefer remaining in Indiana another year. It’d keep the door open for a massive designated-veteran-player contract, which only the Pacers – who drafted him and kept him through his first four seasons – can offer. However, a trade now would transfer George’s Bird Rights to his new team, allowing him to re-sign there for the projected $177 million over five years rather than the projected $132 million over four years if he leaves his previous team.

Potential trade partners will heavily weigh George’s likelihood of re-signing next summer. His expiring-contract status will hurt his trade value, though plenty of teams could use his excellent two-way contributions.

There’s little certainty with George now. Everyone involved – the Pacers, Lakers, other potential trade partners and George himself – must weigh their appetite for risk.

Kevin Durant fires back, says Clint Capela’s job is “easy”

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“We’re confident because we know if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to beat them… We are better than them.”

That was young Rockets center Clint Capela after the Rockets beat the Warriors last Saturday night, feeling confident.

Asked about it, Kevin Durant shot Capela down, saying he’s not the guy that should be commenting.

There are no easy jobs in the NBA. It takes a lot of work physically, a good mental feel for the game, and the right opportunity just to get a chance. That said, some NBA jobs are simpler and more straightforward than others. On offense, Capela is not the ball handler and creator making a lot of decisions, things are simple for him — and he executes them. He’s shooting 66.6 percent this season — he does what he does well.

Houston took two of three from Golden State this season, and while that is far from doing it in a playoff series it should be a confidence boost for Houston if/when they go up against Golden State.

Jason Kidd says Giannis Antetokounmpo offered to save his job minutes before firing

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The stagnant Milwaukee Bucks shook things up by firing head coach Jason Kidd  Monday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was not happy with the news. So much he called up Kidd and offered to help save his job, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Antetokounmpo is understandably close to Kidd — he’s been the coach who helped transform the Greek Freak into an NBA superstar. Kidd is on his way to the Hall of Fame as a player, and as a coach had the vision to put the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands as a point guard. Antetokounmpo trusted Kidd.

However, the Bucks’ growth has been stagnant — this is a team where the players talked about being a 50-win, top-four team in the East with a strong defense, instead they are a team on the way to around .500, barely hanging onto a playoff spot, with the point differential of a team that wins 36 games. They are not taking a step forward, and the Bucks — with the approval of ownership, which was very close to Kidd at one time — approving the move.

There was nothing Antetokounmpo could have done. It’s life in the NBA. That doesn’t mean he has to like it.

Gordon Hayward is shooting standing threes in an empty gym. That’s something, I guess.

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Having lost three games in a row at home, doubt seems to have crept into the minds of some Celtics fans. They’re the top seed in the East (and likely finish the season in that slot, again), but just how good are they really? Do they have enough to knock off the Cavaliers and LeBron James when he goes into playoff mode?

In the midst of that self-doubt, the wife of Gordon Hayward, Robyn, posted this.

Still can’t beat me… 🤷🏻‍♀️

A post shared by Robyn Hayward (@robynmhayward) on

For Boston fans still holding out hope Hayward returns this season, this is another sign. No brace, no chair, he’s draining threes. It’s a step forward.

This video also borders on meaningless — he’s not jumping, not moving, not showing us anything about his recovery we didn’t already know. Good to see him up and making progress, but that he can hit stand-still threes in an empty gym is about as shocking as finding out the next Transformers movie is going to suck.

Officially, Hayward is still out for the season. He’s putting in the work, and maybe he returns before the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him back for this season. Nor should they. The Celtics are on a multi-year plan to be the next dominant team in the East, no reason to push him and risk anything now.

Report: Giannis Antetokounmpo “devastated” by Jason Kidd firing

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The Bucks have been a team of unfulfilled potential for a few seasons now, two steps up and one step back. Last season they were 42-40 and bounced in the first round of the playoffs, this season they are 23-22 and the eighth seed in the East, with the point differential of a team that should be 20-25 and on its way to a 36-win season.

That cost Jason Kidd his job.

That has not sat well with the team’s superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

You can’t blame Antetokounmpo, Kidd has been his coach the past three-and-a-half seasons and guided the Greek Freak’s rise to superstardom. Kidd also was the one who put the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands and made him both the defacto point guard on the team and one of the league’s most dangerous players. Kidd did some very good things with these Bucks, and Antetokounmpo is understandably loyal to the man.

However, Antetokounmpo is under contract at a near-max salary until the summer of 2021, so he has no real leverage here.

Elite coaches will be lined up for a chance to coach Antetokounmpo and a very talented Bucks roster, but whoever gets the job next summer has to connect with the superstar first. Kidd had done that.