As expected, the Indiana Pacers officially inked swingman Paul George to a multi-year extension Wednesday, according to NBA.com.
Terms of the deal were not immediately available per team policy, but according to multiple media reports, including ones from NBC Sports and ESPN, the deal is a five-year max contract believed to be in the ballpark of $80 million, not including an approximate $10 million in incentivized bonuses should he make an All-NBA Team again. That extra money from the "Rose rule" could also kick in if George is named MVP next season.
The 23-year-old became a first-time All-Star last season and was named the league's Most Improved Player of the Year, averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals in 79 games for the Pacers. George, who faced off against the Miami Heat's LeBron James, was called a "great one" by James during their matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. After Game 2, which the Pacers won by four points, James and George exchanged handshakes after the game with James reportedly telling the young player, "I got you back, young fella."
George, selected 10th overall in the 2010 draft, said at a press conference Wednesday he is "blessed" to be in this position:
"I want to thank the Pacers for believing in me when they drafted me. To continue my career with the Pacers was a very easy decision. We have great ownership, a great front office, great fans and I’m blessed with great coaches and great teammates. I use great a lot because that is what this franchise is and I’m hopeful we can be part of great things in the future.”
He added that remaining in Indiana was a "no brainer" and that he looks forward to the pressure that comes with signing the extension.
Larry Bird, the Pacers' president of basketball operations, also spoke at the press conference, calling George the model of what a professional athlete should be:
"Paul represents not only what our team and franchise is about, but what a professional athlete should be. He strives every day to be the best he can be, as a player, as a teammate, as a person and as a representative of this franchise."
George now joins the Washington Wizards' John Wall as the second player from the '10 draft class to sign a max extension.
He will remain in Indiana with up-and-coming center Roy Hibbert, who inked a four-year, $58 million deal with the Pacers last year, and veteran forward David West, who re-signed with the Pacers this summer for three years and $36 million.
Danny Granger, once believed to be the cornerstone of the franchise before missing most of last season because of knee injuries, is expected to return to the Pacers next season. Sharpshooter Chris Copeland, who played for the New York Knicks last season, also joins the core of players in Indiana who will look to make a repeat trip to the Eastern Conference Finals under head coach Frank Vogel. SI Wire: Celtics GM Danny Ainge: Rajon Rondo may not return until December