MIAMI — Perhaps not as soon as next year, but Paul George vows to wrestle the MVP award away from LeBron James.
Roy Hibbert, George’s teammate on the Indiana Pacers, said after a Game 6 Eastern Conference finals win Saturday over the Miami Heat that George could be holding the trophy next year.
“He’s the future,” Hibbert said. “He has a chance to be MVP of this league next year.”
George’s reaction to what Hibbert said?
“Obviously, I agree with him,” George told FOX Sports Florida after Monday’s shootaround in preparation for the evening Game 7 against James’ Heat. “The more and more I get comfortable in this league and the more and more I find myself, I think I am capable of achieving that award.”
James has won the past two MVP trophies and four of the last five. Is George ready to slow James’ run next season?
“Maybe not so quick as next year,” said George, a third-year man who averaged 17.4 points during the regular season while being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. “But in my career, I wouldn’t be satisfied if I don’t win the award.”
George is optimistic about one day getting the trophy away from fellow small forward James.
“He is the MVP,” George said. “And as they say, to be the best you got to beat the best.”
George has been solid against James in the six games in the series. He’s averaged 21.5 points and 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists to 28.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists for James.
George is a confident guy. He’s hopeful of getting a maximum contract whenever he signs his next deal.
“I would hope,” George said. “I would hope. Max guys get the job done at this time (the playoffs).’’
George, making $2.6 million this season and $3.3 million next season, could sign an maximum extension this summer with the Pacers that could start at around $14 million for 2014-15. But he stopped short of saying he wants to get his deal done this offseason.
“I haven’t really put my mind to that right now,’’ said George, who would become a restricted free agent in 2014 if he doesn’t sign an extension this offseason. “I really want to focus on what’s at the plate now.”
But George has no problem with Hibbert having boldly declared in a press conference he could win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as soon as next year.
“I don’t mind at all,” George said. “I would love my teammates to put pressure on me. It just shows how much they expect out of me.”
So George is putting the pressure on himself to one day win an MVP. And he certainly hasn’t ruled out it happening next season.