When the NBA and the National Basketball Players Assn. agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement in December, the league sought to give teams a better chance of keeping the players they drafted — while also compensating players handsomely for making that choice.
Because of that, today’s announcement of the league’s All-NBA teams could have a major impact on the Lakers’ ability to add Indiana star and Palmdale native Paul George to their roster.
George was not among the six forwards selected to the three teams Thursday. That could give the Pacers more of an incentive to find a new home for George this offseason.
The CBA includes a provision called the designated player exception. If George had been selected to one of the three All-NBA teams this year, the Pacers could have offered him a five-year contract extension worth more than $200 million that would've begun next summer. Indiana will still be able to offer him that same “supermax” contract in 2018 if he makes an All-NBA team next season, but given the subjective nature of the All-NBA teams, and the stiff competition for those six forward spots, doing so is hardly a guarantee.
George can opt out of his contract after next year. If he doesn’t become a designated player exception candidate by then, the Pacers could potentially lose him for nothing.
It’s no secret George wants to play for the Lakers if he can’t win a championship with the Pacers. At February's trade deadline, George's camp made that clear to teams around the league interest in acquiring him. Trading for George wouldn’t make much sense unless a team knew it could sign him to an extension. Indiana was swept by Cleveland in the first round of this year's playoffs.
It’s also no secret that former Pacers President Larry Bird was also not especially interested in trading George. Bird has since stepped down from his role and been replaced by general manager and President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard — possibly loosening Indiana’s grip on George.
Both of those factors work in the Lakers’ favor. That they have the second overall pick in this year’s draft, and could choose a dynamic player with it does too.
Today, another one appeared.
The Pacers are now left with a decision about whether to take the risk or try to trade George now and get something in return. NBA teams aren’t especially known for their risky habits.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli