The Pacers and All-Star forward Paul George are "finalizing" a five-year maximum rookie extension worth upwards of $90 million, according to Yahoo! Sports. An agreement is reportedly expected this week.
The Point Forward noted last week that George told the Indianapolis Star that a contract agreement was "going to get done" prior to the start of the 2013-14 season. This weekend, George made additional comments that suggested the deal was essentially complete.
“It’s almost like now that I have this contract, I’ve got to do more work,” George told the paper. “I’ve got to go out and play at the level the guys that are making this much money are playing at.”
With Roy Hibbert already re-signed to a four-year rookie extension during the summer of 2012 and no other star-type talent on rookie deals, there was nothing stopping Indiana from giving George its "designated player" rookie extension, which allows the inclusion of a fifth year. That George has been a model citizen off the court while missing just three games combined over the last two seasons only made the calculus on this contract that much simpler from Indiana's perspective.
Another factor in Indiana's thinking: their books are unencumbered by bad contracts next season. Danny Granger's $14 million deal expires this year, and George will now join Hibbert, David West and George Hill -- whose deals all run through the 2015-16 season -- as Indiana's four key building blocks. Financially, the small-market Pacers are in position to have the best of both worlds: they will be able to re-sign George while still possessing the flexibility to stay under the luxury tax line once his deal kicks in.
George, 23, averaged a career-high 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals last season, his third year in the league. The No. 10 pick in the 2010 draft, the Fresno State product is regarded as one of the best young two-way wings in the league, and he earned All-Star, All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive Second Team recognition last season.
A key piece of Indiana's core group, George averaged 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game during the 2013 playoffs, and the Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2004.
George ranked No. 25 on The Point Forward's recent Top 100 Players of 2014 list. Rob Mahoney offered this assessment of the state of George's game.
George has been tabbed as a burgeoning star, but he hasn’t reached that level in any traditional sense yet. As a scorer, he’s still merely solid; his average of 16.7 points per 36 minutes last season was less than that of players such as DeMar DeRozan, Gerald Henderson and Corey Brewer. As a shot creator, he’s still incredibly sloppy; George’s shooting inefficiency matched that of Josh Smith and Jeremy Lin in terms of effective field-goal percentage, while iffy dribbling provided a consistent drain on his production. He turned the ball over on nearly a quarter of the pick-and-rolls he ran last season, according to Synergy Sports, made just 35.9 percent of his shots as an isolated scorer and failed to elevate the Pacers’ offense beyond being average at best.
That work often begins on the defensive end, where George is uniquely suited to bother the hell out of the NBA’s best wing scorers. He can be a bit vulnerable to bigger, stronger forwards who feel comfortable working from the post (i.e., LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony), but even they have to loft attempts over George’s elastic arms and deal with him contesting every step and dribble. He’s so quick that he doesn’t need to give any opponent a buffer, leading to smothering, dialed-in defense from the three-point line in.
George augments his defensive talents with a knack for rebounding. Only a handful of wing players grabbed a greater percentage of available boards last season.
George will make $3.3 million in 2013-14, the final year of his rookie contract, before his extension kicks in. The new deal will carry him through the 2018-19 season. Earlier this summer, the Wizards gave point guard John Wall a five-year rookie extension.