Dan Feldman

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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.

Watch the 10 longest made shots of the season (video)

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Remember, before the lousy-to-date 2017 playoffs, the excellent 2016-17 regular season?

Here are some fun moments — the longest made shots — from the regular season.

J.R. Smith: Cavaliers should expect ‘dirty plays’ and ‘cheap shots’ from Celtics in Game 2

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A Kelly Olynyk arm hold here, an Isaiah Thomas ankle grab there and a little Marcus Smart feistiness – the Cavaliers overcame the Celtics’ shenanigans in a Game 1 win last night.

What does Cleveland expect from Boston in Game 2?

J.R. Smith, via Fox Sports Ohio:

For them to come out swinging, playing scrappy like they do. They’ve been playing like that all year. Whenever their backs up against the wall, they tend to play better, just like we do. So, we just got to expect that and understand there might be dirty plays, might be cheap shots or whatever coming from the other side, just because they’re fighting for their lives at this point. So, we just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing.

Smith isn’t calling the Celtics dirty. He’s just saying the Cavs should prepare for dirtiness – a suitable safeguard against a team that often toes the dirty/gritty line.

Cleveland felt the price of that in 2015, when Kelly Olynyk ripped Kevin Love‘s shoulder out of place. Olynyk hasn’t stayed above the fray since, and Boston has embraced a scrappy identity.

The Cavaliers should be on guard, whether the Celtics do something objectionable in Game 2 or not.

Report: Mavericks targeting Jrue Holiday in free agency

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The Pelicans have built a fragile core around Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the rest of the roster leaving plenty to be desired. And New Orleans’ third-best player, Jrue Holiday, is entering unrestricted free agency.

Expect the 26-year-old Holiday to have plenty of suitors, including the 76ers – and Mavericks.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

League sources say members of the Mavericks organization view Holiday as a free agent target this summer.

The Mavericks hold a $25 million team option on Dirk Nowitzki, and he plans to return. Dallas will have to decide on that option – part of a retirement-gift contract – before free agency. Maybe Nowitzki would happily take less to add talent, but he can’t know whom the Mavericks will lure until the option deadline.

The smart play: Convince Nowitzki that the team will do right by him even if it declines the option. The extra cap space could help, and if Dallas strikes out in free agency, it could always re-sign Nowitzki to a similar salary.

If the Mavericks decline Nowitzki’s option, it’d still probably take more tinkering to clear enough cap space for Holiday. But if they exercise Nowitzki’s option, it’d take a fairly large overhaul to make room for Holiday.

After tanking, Dallas has the No. 9 pick in a point guard-heavy draft. That might be a more cost-effective and realistic way to land a point guard.

Report: Zaza Pachulia’s MRI came back clean

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Zaza Pachulia left Warriors-Spurs Game 2 with a heel injury – what many saw as fitting comeuppance for the Golden State center injuring Kawhi Leonard.

But don’t expect Pachulia to be out for long.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia underwent an MRI on his sore right heel Wednesday, and the results came back clean, league sources tell ESPN.

Pachulia, whose status is day to day, suffered a heel contusion in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

Ain’t karma a… forgiving lady.