Paul George says Indiana is home. This is the final year of George’s rookie deal, and he believes an extension will be reached before the deadline when the season begins. The Pacers’ two-way star swingman will likely receive a max deal if he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.
George told the Indianapolis Star‘s Michael Pointer that a long-term contract was going to get done before the October 31 deadline.
“(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.”
George is from southern California as Pointer notes in the piece, which made his comments earlier in the summer hard for some Pacers fans to take. It was a largely innocuous remark about the difficulty of saying no if Kobe Bryant had recruited him to join him in L.A. this summer.
“Of course it would be tough (to say no to Kobe),” George told ESPN radio in July. “You’re talking about playing (at) home.”
The quote flitted its way around as people speculated about the possibility of him jumping ship next summer when he becomes a restricted free agent. But he soothed any heartbroken Hoosiers when Pointer asked him if there was any chance he was leaving the Pacers next summer:
“No. Honestly, I love it here. I want to be here. It’s a great place. There are no distractions. I can stay focused. It’s all about basketball here. I can stay focused and do my job.”
George was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player during the 2012-13 season, averaging 17.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 4.1 APG and 1.8 steals. He’s an excellent two-way player: long at 6-8 and fast enough to stay with, say, LeBron James. But PG struggled from the field last year when he inherited the offensive focal point after Danny Granger went down. He shot just 41.9 percent from the floor, though raised it to 43 percent in the playoffs. He particularly struggled on the road during the regular season, shooting 39.1 percent outside of Indiana’s Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
But George is such a terrific defender on the wing and played well under pressure last season, that you can’t expect the 23-year-old to suddenly shoot light’s out when he isn’t used to the responsibility of being a team’s No. 1 option.
George is ready to be the man now, and the Pacers will have to pay him something that approaches the max-extension John Wall signed if they’re going to keep him around. That’s what teams will be offering next summer if the Pacers fail to get him locked in before Halloween.
The young player out of Frenso flashed so much greatness this past postseason, and he’s confident the long term deal will happen now so it’s not hanging over his head all year. Returning Pacers President Larry Bird feels the same way:
“We are working on it now,” Larry Legend told the Star. “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.”
Do you think George signs a max extension before the season begins?
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