Paul George can sign a contract extension Sunday, though there’s no rush for the Pacers to give him to a new deal. He’s locked up through 2017-18 (and has a player option for the following season).
But whenever the time comes, Pacers president Larry Bird knows contract terms.
Bird wants to sign George to a max contract – and he’ll do it as soon as his star player is ready.
“I know he don’t want to talk about it all year and I don’t either,” said Bird, the Pacers’ team president. “We want Paul here and we know what it’s going to cost and what it’s going to take. If Paul wants to get a deal done, we will. It’s a max deal. There’s no others, so there’s no use talking about it. If he wants it, he’s got it.”
George almost certainly won’t sign a straight contract extension. He’ll need something in exchange – a raise. The salary cap has risen so rapidly under the new national TV contracts, George’s once-max contract extension has given him a salary well below his max. So, a renegotiation-and-extension – like Russell Westbrook (Thunder) and James Harden (Rockets) – could be mutually beneficial.
The Pacers can create just enough cap space by waiving unguaranteed players to give George his max salary this season, but it makes more sense for George to renegotiate and extend next year for two reasons:
1. He’ll have seven years of experience, which triggers a higher max tier.
2. George could add three, as opposed to two currently, seasons to his deal (assuming he opts out in conjunction).
Big caveat: We don’t know how the Collective Bargaining Agreement will look next offseason. But I’m betting it will be as or more favorable to max players.
And George is certainly a max player. For the Pacers, the concern shouldn’t be how much George costs, but that they’re the ones paying him. At just 26, he should remain elite through his next contract.
Whether it’s an extension now or next offseason or re-signing him in 2018, Indiana seems committed to doing all it can financially to keep George. Now, the ball is in his court.