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Paul George's All-NBA season puts the Pacers in a bind

(Pat Lovell/USA TODAY Sports)

(Pat Lovell/USA TODAY Sports)

Back in early April, we wrote about the “Paul George predicament” that was awaiting the Pacers. Yesterday, that predicament reared its head, as George made third team All-NBA and will be owed more money from the franchise as a result. Here’s the post on the “Derrick Rose rule,” and it’s impact on George’s future earnings and the Pacers’ finances:

A major storyline in the NBA right now is the Pacers current stumble down the stretch run of the season. The team has lost six of their last 10 and in the meantime has been overtaken by Miami for the top spot in the East, with only six games remaining in the regular season to secure the crucial postseason home-court advantage.

However, amid their struggles there’s an interesting subplot that the Pacers’ front office is keeping an eye on as it pertains to their best player, and his future salary cap figure.

Paul George, the 23-year old Pacers superstar, is in the final season of his rookie contract after signing a five-year extension with the team last September that is set to begin with the 2014-15 season. George will receive a league maximum contract, although his play over the course of the next six games will dictate his final cap figure.

The Pacers slump has coincided with — and to an extent attributed to — a decline in play by George, to the point that many believe the all-star forward is playing himself out of the the All-NBA award conversation.

An individual player’s award shouldn’t be of great concern to the Pacers’ front office, which is primarily concerned with overcoming the Heat and playing for an NBA championship. However, this award plays into their long-term financial plans.

You see, George is a 2014 All-NBA season away from having the “Derrick Rose rule” apply to him. He’s already met the other necessary criteria for the rule, and if he’s on the All-NBA team this year he’ll cost the Pacers more money over the course of his upcoming contract.

Simply put, here’s how the “Derrick Rose rule” works:

The rule allows a player finishing his rookie contract to make 30 percent of a team’s salary cap — up from 25 percent — if he’s twice been voted an All-Star starter, twice been voted All-NBA or won an MVP award.

The Pacers actually negotiated George’s max cap number from 30 percent down to 27 percent during the process of extending him last fall. Given the team’s upward trajectory and an award laden 2013 season for George — he was an All-Star starter, All-NBA third team and NBA Most Improved Player winner — they clearly knew that number would be a factor.

What it boils down to is this, if George makes All-NBA this year he’ll be owed $6,755,943 more over the course of the next five seasons. While not a monumental long-term figure to the Pacers, that extra money would go a long way in filling out the roster with quality pieces around George.

If he earns the award, the Pacers front office will congratulate their star, and in the meantime perhaps roll out some marketing materials to their fans, celebrating the achievement. Internally, they’ll pat themselves on the back over the nearly $8 million saved by getting his cap figure down to 27 percent.

So over the next six games, the Pacers front office has an eye on the number one seed in the East, and the other on whether or not they’ll have an extra $6.7 million to spend in the future.

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