Pacers lose 'supermax' edge for George
Paul George did not make one of the all-NBA teams announced Thursday. (Getty Images)
This doesn’t mean he’s leaving.
But it certainly doesn’t help the Pacers’ case for encouraging Paul George to stay.
With George's omission from the three all-NBA teams announced Thursday, the Pacers lost the ability to use a Designated Player Exception that would’ve allowed them to offer George a five-year, $209 million “supermax” contract extension.
The Pacers still can offer a five-year, $179 million deal. Other teams could offer four years and $133 million.
Just exactly how this will impact George’s decision whether to opt out of the final season of his contract (2018-19) or sign an extension with the Pacers remains to be seen. George has remained non-committal on the subject, but that hasn’t kept the rumor mill from churning.
George stirred the pot Thursday when he re-tweeted a Bleacher Report link to an article in which ex-Celtic Paul Pierce suggested Boston should trade the No. 1 pick in next month’s NBA Draft for a veteran star, naming George, Jimmy Butler and Gordon Hayward as potential targets. There was no text on George’s re-tweet, which was subsequently deleted.
The Celtics, Lakers and Sixers own the top three picks, and all three teams made overtures to the Pacers about George prior to the NBA trade deadline last February.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported the Lakers are no longer interested in trading for George because they are confident they’ll be able to sign him as free agent after the 2017-18 season:
"(The Lakers) are pretty confident and have a great deal of belief that they're in position to get Paul George in 2018 whether he stays in Indiana or is traded elsewhere. … They don't have to give assets up to go and try to trade for him. In fact, I think they've been encouraged to do just the opposite. If Paul George is gonna go there he wants them to have assets, he wants them to be as good of a team as they can when he walks in."
The perception that George is destined to sign with the Lakers could also discourage trade interest from other teams unwilling to give up substantial assets for a player they could lose in free agency after one season.
And these are just the first salvos of what promises to be a critical first summer as Pacers general manager for Kevin Pritchard.
Asked about the impact of George’s all-NBA status would have on the team’s plans during his introductory press conference as the team’s GM on May 1, here’s what Kevin Pritchard had to say:
“It’s somewhat important but at the end of the day we want Paul to want to be here. If we can prove and we can show with our actions about what we do in free agency and the draft, I think he’ll get more comfortable. Look, it’s up to me to put a team around him and Lance (Stephenson), him and Myles (Turner) and Thaddeus (Young) and make moves and develop some continuity, as well. That was the big thing when we talked. We kept talking about ‘How do we get back?’ He was in the mode of ‘How do we get back to the Eastern Conference Finals?’ And I thought that was a great sign.”
Asked if there was a timeline for hearing something more specific from George, Pritchard suggested the all-NBA announcement would likely spur discussions:
“For me, there’s no timeline. We’re going to find out whether he qualifies for the supermax in May. I don’t even know that date, I don’t think they’ve come out with that date. And at that point in time we’ll have some more conversations.”
Forwards finishing ahead of George in the all-NBA balloting were: LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antentokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Jimmy Butler. And George wasn’t even close in the balloting, receiving 40 total points. Butler, sixth among forwards, received 102.
What this all means is the Pacers lost a sizeable chunk of their homecourt advantage, when it comes to retaining George. But they can still offer him more money than any other team and have him under contract for one more season.
This isn’t over, by any means, but the finish line just got a lot closer.