Paul George will play for the Indiana Pacers this season as one of the NBA's most valuable assets, earning around $3.2 million in the last year of his rookie contract. Next year, PG will be quite overvalued (a fantastic problem for PG and one he's earned) as he begins a max contract extension that will likely pay him no less than 25% of the salary cap and could vault to as much as 30% depending on how well he plays next year. A second appearance on one of the three All-NBA teams qualifies George for the 30% max.
Of course, other factors may come into play to push PG's take of the cap up to 30% even if he doesn't repeat his performance last season as one of the top six forwards in the league. It won't be easy to repeat as an All-NBA player when you consider the group of All-NBA forwards from this past year. LeBron James and Kevin Durant aren't going anywhere. Carmelo Anthony and Blake Griffin will remain in the mix while David Lee and PG would be most likely to fall off (I'd include Griffin in that mix, but I don't vote and he plays on the right side of the media with Chris Paul in L.A.).
The challenge for PG will be a few veteran player coming off injuries or tough seasons. Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki and even LaMarcus Aldridge could have big seasons worthy of All-NBA status. Plus any number of young forwards could make the big jump PG did last year and earn a spot or at least strong consideration.
Gamesmanship may work in PG's favor, though.
After signing a deal to become the highest paid player on the roster and among the highest paid in the league, you would hope PG plays at an All-NBA level every year. But a comparable effort to last year won't appear as impressive and leave PG less worthy for All-NBA honors. Unless, of course, the local media covering other teams in the Eastern Conference realize they can gain a competitive advantage for their respective local squads by making sure PG makes the All-NBA team again.
But the media is objective and unbiased, right? Please.
The panel of All-NBA voters includes writers and broadcasters from around the league. I guarantee Pacers radio voice Mark Boyle wouldn't consider manipulating the vote with anything other than his observations throughout the year. But that crew that rolls in from Miami? I'd be more surprised if they didn't vote with the best interest of the Heat in mind. The Heat leads the league in "yes man" media, but there are plenty of others around the league capable of influencing a vote.
According to the reliable math of Tim Donahue, there would be roughly a $3 million difference in the first year salary for PG depending on if he earns All-NBA status after the upcoming season. The Pacers wouldn't exceed the salary cap in past years under the old CBA, but with the penalties under the new CBA, there is no chance the mess with exceeding the cap and really there is no sense in taking a tax hit that is far more punitive.
So simply forcing the Pacers to eat extra cap space would make it tougher for the Pacers to keep their full team together, including signing Lance Stephenson next year. Plus, let's say a certain lot of biased voters not only wants to mess with the Pacers' cap, but also help their home team that may have interest and cap space available to make a reasonable offer (say, $5-6 mil/yr) for Lance Stephenson (honestly, it is a tribute to Stephenson that I made that last statement with a straight face). Certainly they would have incentive to leave the Pacers with only $6 million in cap space instead of $9 million.
I realize this is beginning to sound a bit paranoid, but I'm exaggerating the point in an effort to highlight a weak spot in the CBA and how the formula for calculating a mega deal relies on numbers that are not yet set (salary cap), along with subjective incentives (All-NBA selection) that won't be determined prior to the agreement between the team and player.
Regardless of how the final numbers stack up for PG's new deal, the most important number is the 24 that will remain in the blue and gold for the next six years. Who knows? Maybe he'll just make the All-NBA vote moot and go earn league MVP honors.
More from Indy Cornrows:
- Pacers Links: Reaction to Paul George's pending pay day
- Pacers go all in on defense
- Yahoo! Sports: Paul George finalizing five year, $90 million-plus deal with Pacers
- Pacers Links: Five Pacers among SI's Top 100 players; ranking the East with Phil Naessens
- Report: Paul George, Pacers on 'same page' for long-term deal; Indy Star adds new beat writer