As all of Pacer Nation is aware of, Lance Stephenson and Danny Granger will be battling during the preseason for the 2nd starting wing spot along side Paul George. Also, most of you know that if Paul George makes an All-NBA team next season, he is eligible to make roughly 3 million dollars more in the first year of his contract, and about 16 million more over the 5 years. If the luxury tax is at the expected $75.7 million mark next season, then the amount of George's contract in the first year will determine whether we have 6 or 9 million dollars to sign Lance. Obviously, it is in the best interest of the team's future that George doesn't make an All-NBA team next season. All of this is much better explained in this article:
The decision of who to start actually plays into the financial situation in 2 ways. The first way is that it will affect the value that Lance will have on the open market next season. He is unrestricted and may choose to go to the highest bidder since he hasn't made any real money yet by NBA standards. If he plays off the bench, chances are we will be able to retain him for that available $6 million even if George makes an All-NBA team. If Lance continues to excel off the bench, then the max he could get would probably be a J.R. Smith type contract of 3-4 years and 6 million per year. From a pure financial standpoint, it is better to start Granger when looking at this implication on salary.
It is pretty obvious that bench players typically get paid more than starters, but there is another reason why it makes more financial sense to start Granger. If Granger starts, George will probably be considered a guard for All-NBA team voting, vs. a forward if Lance starts since George can play either, Granger is a forward, and Lance is a guard. (All NBA voting doesn't separate point guards and shooting guards or small forwards and power forwards, they are just separated into guards and forwards). Either way, there are 6 guard spots, and 6 forward spots available, but it will probably be harder next year to get a guard spot.
The guaranteed spots for guards (barring injury) are as follows: Chris Paul, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. That leaves only 3 spots for these guys: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, and Paul George. If Kobe plays a full season, he is a virtual lock since he will take as many shots as necessary to put up 30 ppg. Parker and Wade are also likely to make it if he has a similar season to last year, although he is getting older. Rose will also be a guaranteed selection if healthy.
Even if Kobe or Rose falters due to injury problems next year, there is also the possibility that Rondo puts up gaudy numbers as the only good player on the C's, or Curry having a career year from 3. Essentially, George would have to take another huge leap this season to make it ahead of some of the guys previously listed. I am not saying it won't happen, but it would be harder to make it at guard than forward.
However, if Lance starts and George is considered a forward, it is a whole different story. The only locks to be ahead of George next year are Lebron, KD, and Carmelo. That leaves 3 spots open for Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, David Lee, Kevin Love, and Paul George. I personally think that only Blake Griffin of that group will beat out George. All of those players I just mentioned are certainly capable of doing it, but as long as George continues to improve and grow as a player, he should finish ahead of the rest of the guys on that list.
I also think that Granger is a better fit to start because of the skills that he brings to the team. His floor spacing will greatly help the offense by giving everyone more room to work. Defenses won't be able to double the post as much without giving up quality shots, and Hill and George will have more room to operate on the perimeter and drive to the basket. In the second unit, Lance could become the lead dog and make plays for a lot of guys. Watson isn't the best creator, and Scola and Copeland will need someone to get them the ball to be effective. Lance has the most playmaking ability on the team, and I think the guys in the second unit could mask his poor outside shooting.
So, to recap, starting Lance over Granger may cost us 3 million plus however much Lance's value would increase starting over being the 6th man. Or maybe PG will go out and win MVP next year like jonjonNYC said earlier and none of this will matter. The good news is that we only have 1 more month to be talking about this stuff until the season starts! I know this was pretty long, so thanks to everyone who made it this far!