In the summer of 2018, Paul George can be a free agent, which is going to make this summer interesting for the Pacers. If George makes an All-NBA team — and he’s on the bubble for it, he made the third team last year — the Pacers can give him the $210 million designated player contract that’s going to guarantee him $70 million more than anyone else. He’d sign that. If not, the Pacers have to consider trading him (or do it at the deadline) because it would be a huge setback for the organization to lose him for nothing in 2018.
Larry Bird and company want to keep him, the question is how without the large sums of cash.
Just returned Pacer Lance Stephenson has a plan, something almost straight out of “Goodfellas” (via Derek Shultz of Fox Sports Radio in Indianapolis).
Yes, Stephenson was joking.
If George does not make an All-NBA team, the Pacers may well kick the tires on a trade, but more likely first they will look for moves to upgrade their roster to contender status — George has said he’s not leaving if the Pacers are contenders. Of course, getting the remaining pieces for an elite roster that fast is only slightly more practical than Stephenson’s plan.
If George is not an All-NBA player this year and if Bird cannot quickly construct a contender, then the Pacers have to revisit these trades and try to get something back for their star. He will walk in 2018 — he’s known to be interested in a return to his native Los Angeles to play for the Lakers, the question is will they have anywhere near the kind of roster he will want to sign with? A lot of things can happen before 2018.
If nothing else, there’s Stephenson’s idea.