Indiana Pacers forward Paul George has missed out on all three All-NBA teams, the NBA announced Thursday.
George’s absence from any of the three All-NBA teams is relevant to the Lakers because it means he is not eligible for a designated player extension, which Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report notes would have allowed George to extend his contract five more years for an estimated $207 million.
Instead, George is only been able to sign a five-year contract with the Pacers worth around $177 million, which is a much less steep drop to the estimated $130 million, four-year deal another team like the Lakers can offer George next offseason.
To break that down more simply, a designated player extension would’ve allowed George to make around $41.4 million per year in Indiana versus the $32.5 million or so annually another NBA team can offer him next July.
George will instead be looking at a yearly drop in salary from about $35.4 million per year to $32.5 if he wants to depart Indiana for another team, a difference that potentially makes it much easier financially to theoretically jump ship from the Pacers.
George not being eligible for the designated player extension would seem to fully open the door on his flirtations with the Lakers, because the Pacers can no longer offer him significantly more cash to stay in Indiana. Without that advantage in hand, George can much more easily justify a departure from the Pacers in order to return to his hometown team, a reality that will leave the Pacers with extra pressure to trade their All-Star.
The new Lakers front office will now have to gauge 1) How much they’re willing to give up for George and 2) How badly they sense he wants to come home to Los Angeles.
If the latter seems like a guarantee then the former shouldn’t be much, and the Lakers can afford to play hardball with the Pacers. If Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka get the sense the George may have a wandering eye, however, they may decide to pony up and bring George home in a trade.
Either way, George ending up with the Lakers just got significantly more likely, and the summer is now significantly more interesting.