NBA players on veteran contracts can become eligible for an extension three years after signing their deals, and that date is right around the corner for Pacers forward Paul George. The three-time All-Star signed his current contract on September 25, 2013, meaning he’ll be extension-eligible as of this Sunday, and Pacers president Larry Bird won’t hesitate to offer his star a max deal, as he tells Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star.
“I know he don’t want to talk about it all year and I don’t either,” Bird said. “We want Paul here and we know what it’s going to cost and what it’s going to take. If Paul wants to get a deal done, we will. It’s a max deal. There’s no others, so there’s no use talking about it. If he wants it, he’s got it.”
While an extension on its own might not appeal to George, the Pacers should have the cap room necessary to renegotiate his deal in addition to extending it, as Bird notes. That means Indiana could increase George’s salaries to the maximum for the next three years, and then tack another max-salary year on for the 2019/20 league year. It would be an agreement similar to the one James Harden reached with the Rockets earlier this offseason.
On the other hand, signing an extension this year would prevent George from potentially exploring the free agent market in 2018, when he can opt out of his current contract. It would also lock him into a max salary for players with six years of NBA experience or less — if he waits one more year, he would get the max for players with seven to nine years of experience, which is worth 30% of the salary cap instead of 25%.
George’s new teammate, Jeff Teague, is also eligible for an extension as he enters the final year of his current contract, and Bird tells Taylor that he hopes to re-sign his new point guard beyond 2017 as well. For now though, his priority is George.
“We do whatever he wants to do,” Bird said of George. “He’s proven that he’s a max player. He’s our best player. If he wants a new contract, whenever he wants it, we’ll give it to him.”
We’ll take a more in-depth look on Thursday on George’s situation, and whether or not it makes sense for him to sign an extension this year.