The Indiana Pacers took the Miami Heat to the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals and almost made it to the NBA Finals themselves. However, they fell just short, but with their young, talented and driven squad, most people expect to see them contending in the East next season and for years to come.
However, one of the key ingredients for the Pacers’ future success is their budding star, Paul George. In his third NBA season last year, George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game, though he did struggle with his efficiency as he shot just 41.9 percent from the field.
George is also one of the best young defenders in the league. On a game-to-game basis, the onus falls on George to defend their opponents’ best perimeter player, which he usually does to a successful degree. He still has some shortcomings offensively, but his defense is truly his elite skill.
Considering that George is still just 23 years old, though, many people are incredibly excited about his upside in the NBA. However, with his rookie deal ending next summer, he will become a restricted free-agent, meaning that other teams will have the opportunity to sign him. After losing out on Dwight Howard, the Los Angeles Lakers began getting buzz as a possible destination for George.
However, in an article from Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears, George said that he has a good thing going with the Pacers and that it wouldn’t be in the best interest of his career for him to be wooed by the Lakers and leave the Pacers.
The Pacers fan-base can take a huge sigh of relief at this news and George’s comments. Though players like Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson have a ton of promise, this Pacers team rises and falls with George. Luckily for them, it seems that, even with his free agency looming, this team will continue to rise and George will remain in Indiana.