Paul George not making any of the three All-NBA teams Thursday meant he wasn’t eligible to sign a five-year, approximately $207 million extension with the Indiana Pacers this summer.
The news seemed like one more nail in the coffin of Indiana’s chances to retain it’s All-Star forward, but apparently the extension may not have mattered as much as most thought.
Sam Amick of USA Today reported that “George, who could have done that deal anytime between July 6 to the start of the regular season if he had qualified, wasn’t likely going to sign that [designated player extension] right away anyways.”
If that’s accurate (and Amick always is), then George might have been willing to turn down an extra year and approximately $9 million annually (and over $70 million net) in order to sign with another team like the Lakers in free agency next summer, who can “only” offer George a four-year deal worth approximately $130 million.
That’s sure to provoke a few spit takes, but Amick explained why George would be willing to do so:
“Why? Because this isn’t just about the money. It’s about winning. And if he can’t win at the highest level in Indiana, where the four-time All-Star has been since the Pacers drafted him 10th overall back in 2010, then it’s off to Laker Land he’ll go – either via trade or in free agency next summer.”
There were reports earlier Thursday that the Lakers are confident they can sign George in free agency in 2018 without trading for him, and information like this is why.
The Lakers may not appear to be in a position to win right now, and they aren’t, but George doesn’t seem to be judging them on that factor as much as he’s judging the Pacers. From the sound of all the information that’s been reported, it seems like George wants to win with the Pacers, or he wants to go home to Southern California.
George is reportedly surveying his options over the weekend, and it will be interesting to see how he proceeds forward. With so much smoke about his departure from Indiana, it’s hard not to see this saga ending with George in another uniform, Lakers or otherwise.