The 2017 All-NBA teams have been announced and one name conspicuously missing from the list is that of the Indiana Pacers’ All-Star Paul George. The 27-year-old small forward not only missed out on the prestigious honor but also lost out on an estimated $200 million paycheck. However, the Pacers may end up being the biggest loser. With less money on the table, the “Paul George to Lakers” rumor has gained even more traction.
The designated veteran player extension rule rewards players who earn awards such as Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, or an All-NBA selection. These players are eligible to re-sign with their respective teams for 35 percent of the team’s salary cap. As Bleacher Report noted, the DPE will enable the Pacers to offer George a whopping $207 million five-year extension beginning in the 2018-19 NBA season.
For now, the Pacers can only offer George a contract extension worth $177.5 million stretched through five years. Many analysts believe that the bigger $207 million contract courtesy of the designated player rule could have played a major role in George’s decision making. The Pacers still have some leverage as opposing teams can only offer George a four-year $131.6 million contract, which is around $45 million lower than the Pacers’ max offer.
— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) April 4, 2017
Still, many believe that Paul George’s move to the Lakers is a done deal. The Purple and Gold can lure him away from the team he has called home for seven years just by virtue of being the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite the possibility of earning less, George seems intent on leaving the Pacers to pursue his lifelong dream of playing for his hometown team. The Palmdale, California, native has long admired the Lakers and is a huge fan of Kobe Bryant, who recently signaled that he wants to help his old team in some capacity. That “some capacity” may be the key for Paul George to finally don the Lakers jersey.
The All-NBA awards are given yearly to the best 15 players in the league according to position. The All-NBA First Team this year is comprised of LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, with his record-tying 11th appearance, unanimous choice James Harden of the Houston Rockets, MVP candidates Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, and New Orleans big man Anthony Davis, who missed the All-NBA list completely last year.
Golden State Warriors main guys Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant led the All-NBA Second Team, where they are joined by Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, pint-sized Isaiah Thomas of Boston, and French center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. The All-NBA Third Team is composed of Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers, Toronto swingman DeMar DeRozan, Washington lead guard John Wall, and Golden State’s Draymond Green. Of the 15, only Harden, Westbrook, and Wall are designated players, which means they’ll be a lot richer really soon.
Paul George is not the only player who missed out on the possible riches courtesy of the DPE. Free agent Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz may find himself wearing the famed Celtic green if Danny Ainge continues his brilliant maneuverings and the C’s gets some luck of the Irish. Boston is reportedly interested in signing Hayward away from the Jazz, which is now more likely due to his All-NBA snub. If the Celtics succeed and George does sign with the Lakers, we may be looking at a new Lakers-Celtics rivalry highlighted by the two superstar forwards.
George, who finished the 2016-17 NBA season with a career-high 23.7 points a game, can come over to the Lakers via trade. The Lakers are likely to break up its young core to pursue the Olympic gold medalist. However, owner Jeanie Buss and president of basketball operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson indicated that they are not rushing the rebuilding process. This might mean that the Lakers will wait for the 2018 season to be over to sign Paul George to a free agent contract.
[Featured Image by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]