Retaining Paul George Right Move For Pacers
The Indiana Pacers fielded offers for All-Star forward Paul George before Thursday’s trade deadline, but ultimately preserved him as the franchise centerpiece.
After his name was dangled in numerous trade rumors, the four-time All-Star remained with the team that selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft following Thursday’s trade deadline.
Since he wasn’t dealt, the final 25 regular-season games and potentially a postseason appearance, are essentially a final run for the franchise to remind him why should remain in Indianapolis.
Wednesday, George was focused on bringing the franchise its first championship since winning the ABA title in 1973, especially with Indiana exploring options to play alongside him.
After the front office failed to consult him in any potential deals Thursday, George began venting his frustrations with the team following a practice session.
Paul George in a subtle way here beginning his departure with these quotes imo. pic.twitter.com/1Qe0Jzr355
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) February 24, 2017
George can opt out of his contract and test free agency in 2018.
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The enormous pressure on the Pacers to convince George to remain with the organization will be a key storyline throughout all of next season, but declining to ship him away Thursday was the best option for the team.
Both the Celtics and Lakers were willing to part with promising young players and enticing lottery selections to land George.
Players capable of piling up the points, shooting from three-point range and guarding multiple positions are the most sought after commodity in the league now.
Few can deliver on both ends of the floor as effectively as George, a player that rose to prominence for containing LeBron James as much as possible during the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals.
Toronto signed DeMarre Carroll to a four-year, $60 million deal a year prior to the salary cap significantly inflating. Two days later, Dallas inked Wesley Matthews to a four-year, $70 million contract with Dallas even while he was still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
Matthews is logging 15.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while Carroll is Carroll is adding 9.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game for the Raptors.
George is totaling 22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals and shooting 38.3 percent from 3-point range this season.
— NBA (@NBA) February 20, 2017
When the Pacers began considering offers for the gold medal winner at the 2016 Olympic Games, the offers rapidly accumulated.
The caveat for Indiana is the team must be a title contender for him to remain with the organization.
Over the final 25 games of the year, Indiana will likely entice George to carry the team in any way he sees fit, as he will qualify for the designated player exception if he is selected to an All-NBA team either this year or next season.
George has been named to the All-NBA third team three times in his seven year career.
If the 26-year-old earns an All-NBA Team roster position, the Pacers would be able to offer him more than $200 million during the summer of 2018.
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The Pacers (29-28) have the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference, but have dropped six consecutive games and hold only a two-game lead over eighth-place Detroit.
The team enters next season with $71.3 million committed in cap space, the seventh-lowest salary, but has struggled historically in adding free agents.
Since 1990, the team has sent 10 players to the All-Star Game.
Six of those–George, Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, Dale Davis, Rik Smits and Reggie Miller–were drafted by the Pacers, while the other four–Jermaine O’Neal, Metta World Peace, Brad Miller and Detlef Schrempf–were all acquired in trades.
While the Pacers risk losing George in free agency for nothing next season, declining any offer for him was the right move, as players capable of making the massive impact on both ends of the floor rarely come along.