Indiana Pacers star Paul George was the odd man out on Thursday as the NBA released the All-NBA teams as voted on by the media. Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green landed the two forward spots on the third team as George and Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward were left off the teams. That may not seem significant on the surface, but considering that Hayward and George needed to make the All-NBA team this year in order to be eligible for the designated player exception, it’s a very big deal to those two players.
Butler, on the other hand, hits it and that is a big deal not jut for his future, but for how the league will look over the next couple years from a balance of power standpoint.
Had George or Hayward made one of the three All-NBA teams, they would’ve been eligible for a five-year, $207 million extension from their current teams this summer, which would have made them near locks to stay in Indiana and Utah respectively, even though George’s desire to go to the Lakers is well known. The most the Lakers could offer is a 4-year, $130 million deal, which is still a lot of money but not anything close to what the Pacers could have offered (potential salary numbers come courtesy Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report).
Now, the Pacers find themselves only able to offer a 5-year, $177 million deal to George, which is not all that significant a difference when you consider he will be able to make up a large portion of the $47 million difference in his next contract. The Pacers’ best hope to keep George next summer was for him to make this year’s All-NBA team and sign him to the super-max extension this offseason.
Now, they’ll have to take an earnest look at flipping George this offseason or at the trade deadline next season in order to recoup some assets for what is likely to be a departing superstar.
The Lakers, by retaining their first round draft pick on Tuesday night in the NBA Draft Lottery, suddenly have all manner of ammunition to attract George. The young core the Lakers have possess plenty of talent, but they could also flip some of those assets for more established veterans to accelerate the rebuilding process into being a contender with George.
There are already rumors that, after landing the No. 2 pick which most assume will be used to take Lonzo Ball, the Lakers have gotten some calls about the potential availability of D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers were already going to be able to sell George on hope for the future, being at home, and the potential to quickly bring in another star via trade thanks to their bevy of assets, but with him missing out on All-NBA, they can now close the financial gap with Indiana.
As for Hayward and the Jazz, Utah remains the front-runner to retain their star small forward this summer. By also not being able to offer the five-year super-max, they have to be more concerned that other teams like the Heat — rumored to be interested — and others will entice Hayward to leave Utah, but because of the Jazz’s status as one of the league’s up-and-coming young contenders, they seem in a better position to convince Hayward they’ll be able to win with him as a centerpiece.
The Pacers, meanwhile, will have a very hard time convincing George of that same thing without taking swings and making some dramatic changes this summer to bring in more talent.