Grantland's Zach Lowe has latest breakdown on Paul George's improvement this year (these never get old, do they?), but along the way enlightens us on some key details regarding the max deal agreement PG signed with the Pacers prior to the season.
As the team's designated max player, PG's deal locks him up for roughly 25 percent of the salary cap but he is also eligible for a "Derrick Rose" raise if he earns certain league-wide honors, the most-likely of which would be making one of the All-NBA teams. Assuming PG remains healthy, he's certainly on track for an All-NBA year which would make him eligible for up to a 30 percent raise, which as Lowe points out, is about a $3 million difference on the salary cap for next season.
But the max for PG won't max out at the top, after the two sides agreed to a compromise which lowers the max percent while giving PG a player option for his fifth year.
The two sides struck an interesting compromise, according to several sources who have seen George's deal: If George makes an All-NBA team this season, triggering the raise, his salary will settle at 27 percent of the cap level, instead of the full 30 percent. That would set George's starting salary at about $15.8 million, given the league's projected cap for next season. That's about $1.75 million less than George could have earned had he fought for the full 30 percent. If the Pacers keep Scola at full cost, George's All-NBA salary would leave them with about $67.9 million in committed salary for next season - and about $7 million or so of space beneath the projected tax line for Stephenson's deal. That still won't be enough to keep Stephenson without jumping the tax, but it's close enough that the Pacers could get there without a single cost-cutting move.
So at worst, or best if you are PG, the Pacers will have about $7 million-ish instead of $6 million to play with for a Stephenson deal. I continue to believe that may be enough to keep Stephenson, even if some crazy money is thrown his way. Well, I guess really crazy money, like $10 mil or more per year may be too much for Lance to pass up, but then the Pacers will at least have some money to fill Lance's spot.
I know, you can make a case for Lance breaking the bank this summer and if he continues to minimize the weak spots in his game, he will have plenty of suitors. There are a lot of moving parts to dealing with Stephenson, though and any team throwing big money at the dynamic guard won't be getting the incredible support infrastructure he enjoys with the Pacers. Lance may also want to continue developing his game in the nurturing environment at BLF which is obviously working.
Yep, seems like a pipe dream in today's NBA but I just sense they will work something out. What do you think?