The more promising members of the 2010 draft class have a little more than a month to pursue their respective contract extensions, lest they play out the final season of their rookie deals and enter restricted free agency next summer. Thus far, only two players have managed to sign such extensions: John Wall agreed to a five-year, $80 million extension with Washington, while Larry Sanders agreed to stay in Milwaukee on a four-year, $44 million deal.
Other extension candidates (Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins, etc.) remain, but one of the more prominent among them could soon be taken off the market. According to Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star, Pacers forward Paul George has expressed his intent to sign a contract extension before this year's deadline (October 31st) and the start of the regular season:
“(A long-term contract) is going to get done,” George told The Indianapolis Star. “There will be a deal signed and sealed on the table before the season. We’re (George and Pacers management) on the same page.”
Pacers President Larry Bird said earlier this week he hopes to reach a deal before the season because it would remove a potential distraction and give George a sense of security that many players crave — including Bird himself during his Hall of Fame career with the Boston Celtics.
“We are working on it now,” Bird said. “We’ve got a way set up where we definitely think we can get something done, but it’s going to have to work for both parties.”
If Indiana is sold on George's potential to be a top-flight star, it will have the option of making him the team's "designated player" -- a status which allows for a five-year extension whereas the CBA otherwise only allows for a four-year deal. Should the Pacers opt for that course, they would not be able to designate another player for such an extension until either George's departure from the team or his contract's expiration in 2019. That's a significant commitment, but a decision of relatively marginal consequence in the context of this Pacers team. Indiana doesn't have any player on its current roster even vaguely worthy of such an extension, meaning that George will likely be -- barring the acquisition of another young star via trade -- the best immediate use of that provision. That in itself doesn't guarantee a completion of a five-year deal, but one has to believe that such terms are a point of negotiation given George's success to date and considerable potential. Regardless, George seems confident in his extension's completion, and firmly committal in his relationship to the Pacers. If there's some obstacle keeping both parties from putting pen to paper, it's clear that George fully expects that issue to be resolved in short order.