Prior to a recent Pacers game, a local media member who will vote on NBA post-season awards, including the All-NBA teams, shook his head, sighed and let out a lament facing all voters.
What if one vote costs Paul George $45 million?
Oh, and the votes are public, so just how objective are the media voters supposed to be. Does a reporter covering the Jazz want to roll into the locker room if he didn’t vote for Gordon Hayward and Hayward is left off the team...and then later leaves via free agency?
The situation is the same for voters covering the Pacers. Paul George’s post-All-Star game surge has pushed him into All-NBA consideration but as the season winds down it appears two of the final three forward spots will go to one of three players: Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward or Paul George.
The argument can made for and against all three, although that task is easier for Hayward and PG. It also happens that both players are in play for the league’s new Designated Veteran Player extension which would give Utah and/or Indiana the option to give their respective player an extension worth roughly $45 million more than other teams.
Of course, the worst-case scenario has PG not making the team, eventually leaving Indy and forcing a rebuild for the Pacers. Yeah, good times for voters who can now alter not just one player’s career but the future of a league franchise.
Tim Cato of SB Nation dug into the issue facing voters.
As journalists, we’re supposed to cover the league from an informed perspective, but the way that this vote goes could change the outcome of the league. That’s not a situation that journalists desire, especially those voting on the award.
Situations like this are rare, although it did happen with Anthony Davis last year, and polling media for these awards probably make more sense than asking coaches or players. Still, imagine George not being named to an All-NBA team, which causes him to leave Indiana, which causes the entire landscape of the league to change. That provides massive weight to decisions that were only originally designed to celebrate the top performers in the league.
There are other options for PG remaining with a big extension. Since he made All-NBA last season, he could roll through the last year on his current contract with his hoops muse, Lance Stephenson playing alongside and make All-NBA next season.
Whew, talk about rolling the dice. The Pacers would go through next season with no safety net if things don’t work out well and PG ends up bailing. And again, it will ultimately be determined by media members casting very costly votes.