Indiana Pacers Put Themselves in a Tough Financial Spot

By Mathew Muncy
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Paul George and the Indiana Pacers are in the process of finalizing a five-year, $90-plus million max extension, which is great for the team. But, the reality of the true cost of the contract has yet to sink in. The Pacers will be fine financially for the next couple seasons, but when 2016 comes around, they will have some tough decisions to make.

It was a foregone conclusion that George would wind up with a max contract. Either the Pacers would offer him one or another team would offer him in free agency and the Pacers would immediately match.

I believe George’s contract is contingent upon him qualifying for the “Fifth Year, 30 percent Max Rule” aka the “Derrick Rose Rule”. If George fails to win MVP or be named to an All-NBA Team, then he would not qualify for the additional five percent in salary, which is roughly $3.5 million a year.

Now, I’m sure there will be a lot of people who say, “Who cares about 2016?”, but George has made it clear he wants to play for a contender, and that means longer than just the next three years. By giving him $18 million a year, that leaves the squad with $40 million or so to pay the rest of the team.

Unless Roy Hibbert doesn’t continue to improve, you can expect him to receive an even bigger contract than last time come 2016. Having all of the team’s salary divided between two or three players is never smart and only works for the Miami Heat because LeBron James is really a Monstar sent to earth to defeat Michael Jordan.

Trying to keep players like George Hill, Lance Stephenson, David West and even Danny Granger is now a bigger challenge. The issue lies with the Pacers’ front office and their efforts to never cross the luxury threshold, which is set around $70 million currently. While that’s a nice fantasy to live behind, the reality is they will need to do so, marginally, to remain a top contender.

Superstar franchise players rarely come around, and they stick around one team their entire careers even more rarely, so the Pacers deserve props in making quick work of George’s contract situation. Let’s just hope the Pacers’ checkbook opens as easily in the near future.

Mathew Muncy is an Indiana Pacers writer for Follow him on Twitter @MMuncy, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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