Paul George, who arguably was the 2nd best player in the NBA postseason after LeBron, is finalizing a five-year, $90 million extension with the Indiana Pacers, removing one of the best potential 2014 free agents from a loaded deck. Not surprisingly, Yahoo broke the story.
George, who turned 23 in May, had a terrific postseason against the Hawks, Knicks and Heat, averaging 19.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, and 5.1 apg. He established himself as one of the league’s best young players, and the Pacers retaining George solidifies the Pacers as a contender in the East for years to come. [Yes, I’m aware he struggled mightily in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, shooting 2-of-9 and scoring just seven points when they needed him most.]
I jotted down a summer blueprint for the Pacers to follow that would vault them to the NBA Finals, and even though they didn’t heed it, Indiana managed to bring in Luis Scola (upgrade over Hansbrough), CJ Watson (upgrade over Augustin) and Chris Copeland (valuable bench player). Oh, and Danny Granger returns from injury. The Pacers are the 2nd or 3rd best team in the East, depending on how you think Derrick Rose will rebound and how you think Pierce/KG will mesh in Brooklyn.
The big loser in George staying in Indiana? The Lakers, who lost out on Dwight Howard, and now won’t have a shot at George. They’ll swing and miss with LeBron, so where will the Lakers go for their next marquee player? Or do they need to bottom out and hope to land the next big NBA star in the draft?
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