George Is A Perfect Fit For Pacers





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Paul George‘s birth certificate confirms what everyone already knows: he’s a Southern California native through and through, something the Indiana Pacers’ young star is extremely proud of. But he couldn’t be more of a Hoosier if he tried.

From his relentless work ethic to his off-court sensibilities (fishing over, say, celebrity party hopping), George is the ideal face of the franchise in Indianapolis, where the excitement and expectations surrounding George and the Pacers for this season are already off the charts.

That’s what makes the reported $90-plus million extension George and the Pacers are closing in on prior to the start of training camp the biggest no-brainer to date. George couldn’t have found a better fit — an up-and-coming franchise for an up-and-coming superstar — and the Pacers couldn’t have found a better ambassador for what should be their most promising team in a decade.

Pacers president Larry Bird told Pacers.com that the deal isn’t done yet, but expects it to be soon:

When asked whether the reported terms were accurate, Bird said, “I never heard that number. I wish it was my number instead of [Paul’s].

Although a new deal isn’t complete just yet and George hasn’t signed on the dotted line, everything is expected to be resolved this week.

“I know Paul’s worth,” said Bird. “I’m not banking on what’s going to happen in the future, even though you do somewhat. It’s what he’s accomplished now and that what we’ll go off of.

“It’s always good to have the leverage but the number has got to be a number we both like. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about money. Yes, he wants to be here. He’s told me that a million times. We want him here so let’s just find a number that works for both.”

Bird, a Hall of Famer, completely understands George’s mindset.

“Well back when I played, if they brought me in and was talking to me, I wanted to get it done before camp,” he said. “So I know it’s important. Security is always the best thing to have in this league.”

With a new contract, there’s more to it than just the length and value of the deal. There’s all the legal items, player or team options, and more that goes into it.

“If you come to the number first, then all the other things sorta fall in place.”

I lived in Indianapolis and covered the team the last time the Pacers entered a season with a budding young superstar (Jermaine O’Neal), a deep roster and championship ambitions. Things are going to get even crazier for George at home than he probably realizes. O’Neal was a fabulous player then, and like George, was a somewhat underrated talent coming into the Draft. He outworked and eventually outplayed that profile and blossomed into an All-Star with the Pacers. The same is true for George.

A city and state that loves its basketball like no other has embraced George in ways it never did O’Neal, who led the Pacers to the best record in the league during the 2003-04 season. Pacers fans always seemed a bit indifferent to O’Neal, who had the misfortune of having to assume leading the team while Reggie Miller was still the franchise’s true face and Ron Artest was in the midst of his most tumultuous time with the franchise. Pacers fans don’t appear to have any such reservations where George is concerned.

They saw as George went toe-to-toe with LeBron James and the Miami Heat during Indiana’s run to the Eastern Conference finals last season. They saw George shine on the biggest and brightest stage alongside David West, Roy Hibbert and the rest of a rugged Pacers team that pushed the Heat to a Game 7.

They know that they have the genuine article in George, whose meteoric rise in three seasons has been nothing short of remarkable. His impact on this team last season, while Danny Granger was sidelined with injury, is well documented (courtesy of my main man and numbers guru John Schuhmann of NBA.com).

It’s a testament to the work Bird (as well as Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard) have done in rebuilding the franchise that George is stiff-arming the free agent process (and the lure of his hometown Los Angeles Lakers) that so many of his contemporaries would chase if they were in his shoes.

The best part for the Pacers is that they’ll have George locked up for what should be the prime of a superstar career. George is a true two-way player (not every All-Star plays defense as well as they do offense) on the short list that is headlined by James.

George is far from a finished product, another huge positive for the Pacers, and he understands that. He talked about it repeatedly in July during his time with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team and their mini-camp. How he and Granger co-exist will go a long way in determining just how successful a season the Pacers can put together.

But those are issues Pacers coach Frank Vogel and his staff will gladly sort through with George as the centerpiece of a team that should compete at the highest level for the foreseeable future.

In fact, none of those lingering issues seem terribly unsettling when you’ve got a perfect fit between a franchise and the (new and) true face of said franchise.

25 Comments

  1. Ned says:

    Paul George: Great player, but too much money given today’s collective bargaining environment. If you pay a single player 30% of your cap space, you’re going to be jammed up badly in the future, and will land in Luxury Tax Hell trying to retain your existing players under their Bird rights (ironic, isn’t it?). I don’t think a rust-belt audience can afford the increase in ticket sales prices that would be needed if the Pacers go so far over the cap, and they have so many terrific players, they’ll almost have to to sustain the championship-caliber roster they currently have. And there’s no $20B 20=year cable dealing coming the Pacer’s way as it did in L.A. for the Lakers. Big mistake Larry. I’m betting George would have taken $15M a year to play with such a great team with such great promise with so many terrific young players. And shame on Paul for not accepting such a salary.

    • woodchuck says:

      spot no ned.also you have to factor in acl inj because now that he’s being paid more he will play more,raising
      the chances of a acl even higher .PG is a good player but not proven enough to risk 90 mil because he’s
      been hyped up over a couple of decent years.90 mil is not future superstar money it’s superstar right now money.

  2. Paul Raine says:

    Yes this’ll will be a big year for the Pacers. I see Granger as coming off the bench. I think Lance Stephenson is a great starter and should keep his starting job. Granger is a veteran and he does what’s best for the team if that is coming off the bench so be it. Winning a title smooths everything over.

  3. Chris31 says:

    Sure hope Hibbert has got more athletic…he said hes been doing a lot of weight lifting. And I also hope that David Wests nasty has rooted even more into everybody and especially Hibbert even more. I mean he showed some scary signs in the playoffs. If Hibbert will take another step forward in being really tough and nasty on defence then I say Finals baby!
    Cos you know West is gonna be West, P.George is gonna make another leap, Dannys gonna score and G.Hill is gonna do his thing. And if G.Hill is gonna struggle leading the team into offence, then there is always a legit true point guard in Watson. I’ve waited many years for this season…everything must come together…it just has to!

  4. Brye says:

    Starting lineup should stay the same with granger coming off bench. The second starting five would be copeland, granger, mahimi, Scola, and Watson. There would not be a drop scoring with these players of the bench.

  5. Reggie Miller says:

    PPG: 17.4 RPG: 7.6 APG: 4.1 SPG: 1.8 FG% .419

    Those arent actual superstar numbers, yes those numbers are really good and will get him to the allstar weekend, But I think he needs to average 23 ppg on 45% shooting to be looked as a “superstar”
    with that said, he is a maxplayer most defently A guy who is equal on both ends of the floor is very rare.

    • Kome the Black dumba says:

      23? So not feeding the ball into the post for west and Hib? What about Hill, Lance and Danny? they need touches too. PPG didn’t translate into superstar. Look at the 2004 Pistons. All 5 starters were under 20ppg and who won the chip?

      Signing off,
      The spoiled vino

  6. tanibanana says:

    That means Pacer is locked for Playoffs and perhaps a Conference contender for the next 5-years.
    Miami may have the best player, but Indiana is the more complete team..

  7. J says:

    they will win a title maybe not next year but soon

    this is how I have the players main stats for next season

    hill 10.9 pts 3.9 ast
    George 20.0 pts 7.7 reb 4.5 ast
    granger 16.9 pts 4.8 reb
    west 15.9 pts 7.8 reb
    hibbert 16.1 pts 10.0 reb

  8. Cripple Rapist says:

    That’s really good for Paul George and Indiana… I’ll say he’s the future of NBA… Time will tell, as of Today LBJ is the best… George is somehow lucky because he do compete against the best, one day He will be called the BEST I’m not saying GOAT but 1 of the best…. This is coming from a BIG MIAMI HEAT DWADE fan… Let him put to the driving seat, throw Granger in the BUS all he manage to do is BARK… If the Pacers really want George to become a Great player let him compete with LBJ,Durant I’m not including kobe because He won’t learn anything from kobe just hogging the ball… Don’t mix him with Granger either, It will only ruin the TEAM Chemistry and his playing style, Let him grow more through experience… This coming season will be interesting…

  9. 2014OKC says:

    This is great news for Paul George. Isn’t it something when a young player hooks up w/ a winning team? I just think players like Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, John Wall start off struggling because of the teams they are on and don’t get to shine like this fella. These players have to work extra hard because the spotlight is on them to carry their teams. They are young, immature, and they risk themselves for injury with all those minutes. Whether Paul George is a starter or not, he can rely on his all-star like teamates in a group effort towards a possible championship . Go Indiana.

  10. malachi cook says:

    do you think theey should trade granger now???.. i do (to save alot of money and mabye to get a more reliable (in terms of health) good player off the bench), but only, and only if, they can get some good picks and great young talent in reutrn. What do yall think??… or keep granger, for a 1-2 combo (paul and granger), like wade and lebron?

    • bballjunkie1 says:

      I think if Danny is Danny, he George with David West, you could be looking at an exciting 1,2, 3 punch for the ages. Can’t wait on season to start, don’t forget Scola !!!

    • Pacers2k7 says:

      I like Granger I really do so unlike what OKC did with Harden, I feel like they can use him to win games during the reg season while TRYING to get pieces that will fit them. His expiring contract will attract teams and some who are willing to take the risk on his health my want him for keeps. I am pretty sure that he won`t want to take a big pay cut to stay there so it`s keep him and try and win now or trade him. I like the idea of him staying this year and letting him go in FA

      • malachi cook says:

        Look granger is a great player WHEN HEALTHY… but realistically speaking, hes never had a whole season healthy since his first years in the league, and hes costing indiana plenty of money… and he also occupies paul George true position… so yea unless they could get an extension next season to cut his pay in half… iwould trade him, but its a toss up

  11. BRETT says:

    Paul is going to dominate he is a true star unlike danny him and lebron will be competing for years to come so glad we locked him down i really thought down the line he would pull a lebron james on us and go to LA congrats pacers

  12. LAKERforLIFE says:

    lebron, george-east
    kd, leonard-west

  13. Haha must stink for laker fans

  14. McCollbeDiva says:

    Look forward to seeing Paul George not only blossoming as a player, but also being a good influence on the rest of the Pacers. George has become their franchise player in part by being willing to train through the off-season with the best there is – LBJ, rather than being disrespectful towards the clear league MVP, a la Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson in the 2011-12 East semi-finals.

    • Pakyaw says:

      He need to start to be a leader, not hibbert, not west, not granger.. Let them follow his lead., this kid got a lot of potential..

      • malachi cook says:

        no idont think so, i think hibbert and granger (as long as he’s still there, in case he gets traded) should remain the leaders. When you make players like these your leaders, thats when they start bcoming big headed and want so much (lebron, kobe, cough cough*, chris paul), ilike hibbert and granger as captains, it keeps, paul in line and helps his growth and development… your best players wont always be the best leaders

  15. ac says:

    I’m a Knicks fan so its difficult to admit, but this article is spot on. 5 years/90 million is almost a bargain for a guy who, seemingly out of nowhere, has just turned into one of the best small forwards in a league that’s loaded at that position. George is a complete two-way player whose offensive game has really grown in the last year and his upside is huge being only 23. I’m looking for this year to see him make a big jump in most statistical categories this year, especially scoring and FG%.