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:
- First team: LeBron James (498)
- First team: Kawhi Leonard (490)
- Second team: Giannis Antetokounmpo (258)
- Second team: Kevin Durant (239)
- Third team: Draymond Green (134)
- Third team: Jimmy Butler (102)
- Paul George (40)
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)
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.