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Paul George, Pacers finalizing deal

Paul George signs extension.

Last September, Paul George was just an extremely athletic player that the Pacers were hoping would develop into a solid player beside Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert.

Now, Paul George has seemingly established himself as the face of the franchise moving forward, as well as one of the best young stars in the league.

The Pacers now plan to pay him as such.

According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Pacers and Paul George are finalizing a five-year extension worth nearly $90M, making George one of the highest-paid young players in the NBA.

George, entering his fourth year in the NBA, is coming off of the best season of his career. With Danny Granger lost for the season, George took on responsibility as the Pacers’ top scoring option, as well as guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter option each and every game.

George averaged a career-high in nearly every major statistcal catergory, dropping the line of 17.4 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, 4.1 assists per game, 1.8 steals per game, and 0.6 blocks per game. George earned his first All-Star berth, and won the Most Improved Player award at the end of the season.

With George locked in for the next five years, the Pacers are virtually dead-locked in terms of salary cap space. This also makes the Danny Granger dynamic very interesting. Paul George primarily played shooting guard with Danny Granger in the starting line-up. Last season, with Granger out, the Pacers started George at small forward (his natural position) and slid Lance Stephenson in at the two-spot. With George getting a contract of this magnitude, this could mean that Danny Granger is on the way out of the door for two reasons:
1. Granger is making a lot of money, almost too much money considering his recent history.
2. Even if Granger comes back healthy, Paul George seemed a lot more comfortable at Granger’s small forward position. It would make sense for Granger to come off the bench as the sixth man, but Granger is making north of $13M this season — that’s a lot for a bench player.

What the Pacers will do with Danny Granger, if anything, remains a mystery. However, they have made a brilliant move for the future by locking up Paul George. George was set to become a restricted free agent after this season. While the Pacers could match any offer George would receive, it was still smart to get this signing out of the way. The Paul George extension caps off a wonderful off-season for the Pacers, who are more ready than ever to dethrone the Miami Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy.

Staff Writer

Follow me on Twitter — @ESPN_Nekias

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