May 3, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) dunks against the Atlanta Hawks during the first half in game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers sign Paul George to Max Contract

The Indiana Pacers signed Paul George to a long term deal Wednesday morning. The All-Star forward will reportedly be with the Pacers through the 2018-19 season.

George is expected to make $80 million off the contract, and could make as much at $90 million if he is named to the All-NBA team or wins MVP this season.

In his third season, George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He was a selection to the All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive Second Team. He was also the Most Improved Player in the 2012-13 season.

It was long expected that George would get a long term deal, the only issue was whether it would happen before the season or linger throughout the year. Doing the deal now lets both the front office and George focus on playing basketball.

George has very quickly become the leader of this team. Coupled with Roy Hibbert, the Pacers have two of the best defensive players in the league. They also happen to be very talented scorers as well.

This signing is in-line with a number of deals the Pacers have made. Last summer, Indiana inked a deal with Hibbert for four years and a few months ago locked up David West for the next three years.

While many “analysts” have spent to off-season overlooking the Pacers, the fact of the matter is that they are the biggest threat to dethrone the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

The Chicago Bulls don’t make a magical leap ahead of teams by maybe getting Derrick Rose back. Adding Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, two aging stars, to the Brooklyn Nets won’t necessarily get them over a first round playoff exit.

The Pacers have a young core, with a starting five that can go toe-to-toe with any other team in the league. They also made a serious upgrade to the bench and will get former leading scorer Danny Granger back from injury this year.

The Pacers are a dangerous team, and locking George up for the future proves just how committed Larry Bird is to winning.

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Tags: Indiana Pacers

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