Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird recently commented on the situation surrounding franchise player Paul George‘s current contract, and the team’s willingness to extend the 26-year-old forward’s deal.
The Indiana Pacers have been working very diligently at building a contender atop of the Eastern Conference for the 2016 season.
All in one offseason, team president Larry Bird swapped George Hill for Jeff Teague, the team’s 20th selection in the 2016 NBA Draft for Thaddeus Young and signed veteran Al Jefferson to a three-year, $30 million contract at the start of free agency.
On paper, this is a Pacers team that looks like a potential top-10 roster, appearing to be able to hang with just about any other team in the entire league.
Their star player, Paul George, is under contract through 2018. However, that hasn’t kept Bird from thinking of the possibility of extending George’s max contract that he signed with the team prior to the 2013-14 season, per the Indianapolis Star.
"“We do whatever he wants to do,” Bird said. “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.”"
During the 2016 free agency period back in July, George commented on Bird’s willingness and hard work to vastly improve the team.
“I’m glad he’s not letting me waste years,” George said. “I think Larry and the rest of the front office have expressed how bad they want to get back to the Eastern Conference finals by these moves this offseason. I’m looking forward to getting us back there. He’s putting talent around me to help me get to what we all want to get accomplish, and that’s a championship.”
George would deserve nothing short of a max extension from the Pacers. After all, he has proven that when healthy, he can be a top-10 talent in the NBA.
George had the best statistical year of his career last season after coming back from a leg injury that sidelined him for all but six games in 2014. For the 2015-16 season, he averaged 23.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists through 81 games.
He was the NBA’s second-leading playoff scorer behind Kevin Durant — averaging 27.3 points per game as the No. 7 Pacers forced the 2nd-seed Toronto Raptors to seven games in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.
For now, George probably is not worried about his looming extension more so than he’s concerned about helping lead the Pacers to the playoffs this upcoming season.
One thing is certain, though: the Pacers are in good hands with George’s talent moving forward, and an extension would surely keep them in contention for years to come.
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