With the season drawing to a close and All-NBA team voting on tap, there’s one major subplot worth following: the financial fate of Paul George.
The Pacers star probably won't earn a spot on the first or second team, given the presence of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo at the forward positions.
But if George gets a nod from the media voters for a third team selection (or in some highly unlikely twist of fate were to win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year) it would allow Indiana to potentially give him a big pay raise, as The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore explains.
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The Designated Player Exception permits a team to sign a player on their second contract to a maximum deal above the typical rate for their service time, but with a couple caveats. The player must earn an All-NBA selection the previous season, and the player has to have been drafted by his team or acquired by trade while on his rookie contract. The arrangement is part of the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement.
An All-NBA selection would make George eligible for a contract extension worth upward of $200 million, which is around $70 million more than he otherwise could receive, with the exact numbers depending on the NBA salary cap. Designated Player Extensions are worth up to 35% of the cap, which is reportedly set to jump to around $101 million next season from this year’s $94.1 million mark. Whether or not the voters place George on an All-NBA team could cost him the opportunity for an even greater payday.
The Pacers are not the only team with reason to keep an eye on whether the voting sports writers and broadcasters recognizes George: The star forward may be more likely to test free agency if he doesn't receive the extra money. He will be up for an extension this summer, and if he doesn’t sign, he would become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018. Rumors have heavily linked George, a native of Los Angeles, to his hometown Lakers should he leave Indiana.
George isn't the first player to be affected by this quirk of the CBA. A year ago, Anthony Davis missed out on an extra $24 million when the media spurned him in their All-NBA selection voting. Damian Lillard, on the other hand, got a $13 million raise by making the All-NBA second-team.