The NBA announced in November that for the first time in league history, it have an awards show in late June to recognize NBA players, teams, coaches and executives for their accomplishments and performances from the 2016-17 NBA season.
The trouble with that is that it’s not until Monday, June 26th, four days after the annual NBA Draft. That’s a problem for teams as some player contracts are tied to league awards, which are voted on by approximately 100 media members from all NBA markets.
Like Paul George, who qualifies for a super-max contract extension, known as the Designated Player Exception, if he lands a spot on one of three All-NBA teams for the second time in three years.
The Pacers will know whether George, their franchise player, was voted on an All-NBA team before the draft, a source familiar with the league’s thinking told VigilantSports.com.
The NBA understood the problem and how it was not practical for teams to make decisions in the draft, or via trades, without all the information necessary. It’s not immediately clear when the All-NBA teams will be announced, but it will be before the draft.
This is critical to Pacers officials and the direction of the franchise. If George is voted one of the six best forwards in the league, he can sign a five-year contract extension worth more than $200 million, and $70 million more than any other team. If not, there’s not a significant monetary difference for George to sign an extension with Indiana, who selected him 10th overall in 2010, over the 29 other teams.
George, who turns 27 in a week (May 2), averaged a career-high 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists this season, which wrapped up Sunday in a four-game sweep to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was outstanding over the final two months of the season, but had his struggles until March. Still, he was voted an All-Star for the fourth time over his seven-year career, and the Eastern Conference Player of the Month in April.
George was asked whether he thought he was deserving of a vote at the end of the regular season.
“Man I hope so,” he said. “You’ve got a couple guys that so-called have been ahead of me, who have other guys on that list. I’ve been trying to lead and do it at both ends this whole season. Hopefully they take that into account, especially closing this year out, get us in the playoffs.
“If I make it I do. If I don’t, so be it.”
George was first eligible to sign an extension with the team last fall, but wisely held off. The league and the National Basketball Players Association negotiated a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will take effect on July 1, 2017 and run through the 2023-24 season.
“I’m one of the guys that agreed on it,” George said afterwards. “Was happy with what our NBPA came up with. I think it’s beneficial for a lot of reasons. We’ll see when it comes to contract time.”
Pacers great Reggie Miller said before the playoffs that “Absolutely he’s done enough.”
George’s competition is stiff: LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, and Gordon Hayward.
“I don’t lose sleep over that,” Larry Bird told RTV-6 Sports Director Dave Furst. “There’s talk of that every day. Paul’s going to make the decision for Paul and the franchise will make the decision that they have to make. I want him here for his whole career. We think he’s a crucial piece of what we’re trying to do. Paul’s been great for us.
“I know Paul likes it here. He wants to have guys around him that he knows he can compete for a championship [with], and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The first-ever awards show will be where The Association announces the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, Kia NBA Sixth Man Award, Kia NBA Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year.