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Indiana signing Paul George to max deal is a no-brainer

Sep 23, 2013, 12:06 AM EDT

paul george Getty Images

Well, we all saw this coming. Paul George burst onto the scene last year for the Indiana Pacers, won the Most Improved Player award, carried the Pacers deep into the playoffs, and established himself as the future of the club. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Pacers rewarded George tonight with a nice payday.

Whenever I see a max contract being finalized, I ask a few general questions to get an idea of whether it was the right move:

1. Is the new max player the best talent on the team, or does he have the potential to become the best player on the team in the near future?

2. Can you win (or at least be very competitive) for a title with this guy as your best player?

3. If he hit the open market, would he receive a max contract?

For George and Indiana, all the answers are yes. No brainers, even. George is a true two-way player with an expanding set of skills, and the fact that he’s only 23 years old allows you to dream on his potential. With Danny Granger on an expiring deal, George will take over as the number one option offensively yet again, and he should form a potent tandem with Roy Hibbert for years to come.

Indiana virtually had no choice but to give George a max extension, so any argument of value seems silly. Let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute though, and float this out there. Would you give Kawhi Leonard a max contract? Probably not, right?

Last year, George and Leonard had nearly identical PER’s, with George at 16.8 and Leonard at 16.4. Leonard was much more efficient, notching a true shooting percentage over .60 percentage points higher. The two players put up similar rebounding percentages (George 11.3, Leonard 11.1) as well, but the main difference was that Paul had the ball in his hands quite a bit more, so his assist totals and usage percentage blew Leonard’s out of the water.

Why am I bringing all this up? Because so much of perceived value relies on opportunity. We only caught a glimpse of Leonard as a top scoring option in the playoffs last year, so we’re not sure if he’s capable of handling the full load. But because of Granger’s injury, we’ve seen George handle the load for a full season. It wasn’t always pretty (the Pacers were 20th in offensive efficiency, after all), but there were definite flashes of brilliance. And his defensive abilities and length are absolutely vital to Indiana’s scheme, and are a must-have with LeBron James around.

Still, for George to be worth this max extension, he’ll have to keep improving. His development can’t stagnate, and although it’s highly unlikely it will, he wouldn’t be the first player to receive a max deal and fail to live up to the expectations that come with it.

Is this a good move by Indiana? Again, of course it is. This was the only option. Going forward, however, the onus falls on George to replace the potential he’s getting paid for with improved production down the line.

  1. pantsfreezone - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    Overpaid as much as he is overrated.

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:37 PM

      More overpaid than overrated. He’s likely to improve because he’s still quite young, but his production isn’t worth this money yet.

      • moseskkim - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        Most of u guys are crazy to think he’s overrated/overpaid. He’s a stud. He’s improved so much. He can defend, shoot the 3, assist, he crashes the boards with passion, he’s learning more ways to score, he’s 23, he was an all star (coaches saw he was real good), most improved player, all nba 3rd team, he works very hard on his game, he has legit length, I really can go on and on. It’s not all about what he’s done.. It’s a safe bet that he’ll improve and even if he doesn’t, he’s well worth the contract. Don’t discount how hard he’s worked. I’d say most every team would give him a max offer if they had a chance.

      • pantsfreezone - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        He can’t dribble. His shooting is suspect. He’s not worth 5/90 in any way, shape or form.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      So…you are new to the game of basketball huh?

      • pantsfreezone - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:29 AM

        Nope. Been a fan since ’88. And I know you don’t pay a guy who is a middling talent 90 million. Indiana fans and Bulls fans are going to be very disappointed at the end of this season. Again.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        You have apparently not watched PG play the game of basketball then. Your post proves as much.

      • pantsfreezone - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:39 PM

        I’ve watched him not be able to dribble or shoot very well. He’s Ron Artest v 2.0. But keep responding with your drivel, it’s fun making points to your non-arguments.

  2. miamatt - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Worth it.

  3. adamsjohn714 - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    haha the usage argument kills me. You can’t use it as a defense for why he was an inefficient shooter because all his MISSED shots are part of his usage. Also, way to completely ignore turnovers. Kawhi is clearly a superior player, though they’re both quite good.

  4. rickyspanish - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    Cha-ching! Dude is a beast and will only get better. It’s gonna be tough in the East this year.

  5. 00maltliquor - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    With the $ tied in to George and Hibbert, they better hope that those two can be a championship duo. Otherwise they’re screwed. They got no more money for a good 3rd guy if/when West declines, and the bench they got may be as good as they can afford from here on out. Still love that team though, just think those two contracts will end up handicapping them if George doesn’t live up to the hype and Hibbert stays disappearing 1 out of every 3/4 games a night.

    • spursareold - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      They could flip Granger for assets/picks at the deadline for a team that gets a dose of reality, and realizes that they are NOT a player in the LeBron sweepstakes.

      • 00maltliquor - Sep 24, 2013 at 1:02 AM


  6. antistratfordian - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    “2. Can you win (or at least be very competitive) for a title with this guy as your best player?”

    Paul George wasn’t the Pacers best player last year. That would be West. And Roy Hibbert is a more important piece than George for the Pacers. So I wouldn’t pay George that amount of money. That’s like giving Josh Smith a max contract. If he’d only accept the max I’d let him walk and let someone else waste that money on him. But the PR hit the Pacers would take if they did that would be incredible so that’s totally unrealistic.

  7. cruzan80 - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    So overrated & now also overpaid.

  8. jimthebuilder27 - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    Overrated and overpaid. It’ll be yet another max contract that cripples a team (Joe Johnson, Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arenas, Ama’re Stoudamare).

    • bougin89 - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:16 PM


      -The Hawks gave Joe Johnson a 6 year $123 million contract when Joe Johnson was going to be 29 years old. They knew they were buying his declining years.

      -The Knicks couldn’t get Amare’s contract insured. They were basically told his knee(s) wouldn’t last. Amare was turning 28 when they gave him that contract.

      -Gilbert Arenas was resigned after blowing out his knee.

      -Rashard Lewis was just a completely awful signing. At the time the Magic gave him that deal people were basically in shock. Huge, long term deal when he was turning 28 for a catch and shoot scorer.

      How do these contracts relate to a guy that is 23 and just tapping into his potential? Especially for a two way player who’s been progressing every season he’s been in the league?

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        he didn’t really progress this past year. He just got more minutes.

      • bougin89 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        He improved defensively while guarding the opposing teams top perimeter player on a nightly basis. He’s sliding into the role of really getting their offense going, at times even playing point forward because last year their perimeter players really struggled to create anything. Maybe Granger will take some of that off his shoulders and he can go back to being more efficient, we will see if that’s the case.

        This contract is obviously based on potential but was a no brainer by NBA standards.

  9. spursareold - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Kawhi will get a MAX contract, too. You forgot one criteria: is it a small market team that CANNOT afford to let the player hit the open market?

  10. metalhead65 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    must be a shock to think that a player as good as him is happy in the market he is in and has no interest in playing for your overrated big market team right. shove your saber stats we all know what he brings to the table and he is one of the reasons the pacers are a great team. the people running the team know what they are doing as evidenced by the pickups they made this off season . so getting good players around him will not be a problem. they are going to be contenders for years get used to it!

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      Where you been Man? Give up on HBT?

      • metalhead65 - Sep 26, 2013 at 8:14 AM

        hey how’s it going? they won’t let me post even though I am not banned according the stat geek in charge. I can write all the comments I want but it won’t post. seems a little strange I can post on the other sites without a problem. looks like your cards are primed for another series run. I look for my reds to be 1 and done. I blay the toothpick for most of their problems but something is missing with the players. there is no excuse to take 3 out of 4 from you guys and sweep the dodgers then lose to the cubs brewers and mets.. I just do not get it,beating the losers was all they could do most of the season and then when it counts they can’t. I would say wait till next year but if they keep baker what’s the point? nice to hear from you man take care.

  11. reesesteel23 - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    If Pacers don’t force game 7, he doesn’t get this money. Good player but he shouldn’t be in the Max conversation by any means

  12. cmart0907 - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    This Nba max contract stuff ia corrupted. Really the Pacers dont have a choice to give it to him. If they dont you can GUARANTEE another team will. He is only getting better. Production wise not yet ready for a max. Potential now thats a no brainer. All the pacers need is another big to replace Hibbert or West. After Tyler slipped away.

  13. stlouis1baseball - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    It is apparent there are a huge number of people that have never seen Paul George play the game of basketball. It’s hard to take anything you people say seriously with these kinds of comments.
    Laughable posts.

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