The Indiana Pacers are headed toward an interesting offseason.
Team president Larry Bird didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline. Franchise star Paul George was linked to numerous teams via multiple reports—mostly the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, but he ultimately stayed put.
George wasn’t happy that the Pacers didn’t loop him into their trade-deadline agenda, per USA Today‘s Sam Amick:
This isn’t optimal. George is a free agent in 2018 (player option), and the Pacers won’t know whether he qualifies for the Designated Player Exception—which will allow them to offer him a five-year extension this summer worth more than $200 million—until the league’s All-NBA teams are announced.
If George makes an All-NBA squad, it’ll be tough to turn down the Pacers’ extension, no matter what state they’re in. If he doesn’t make an All-NBA team, he becomes a huge flight risk in one year’s time, which should, in turn, prompt the Pacers to shop him over the offseason.
For now, we’re in wait-and-see mode. The Pacers could go on a tear to close out the season, changing George’s feelings regardless of what the roster looks like. We don’t know.
At the moment, though, it sure seems like the Pacers are speeding toward one of their most pivotal offseasons in franchise history.