With wing extraordinaire Paul George signing a max-level, five-year contract with the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, a legitimate argument can be made that the Pacers have the most secure medium to long-term future of any Eastern Conference team.
At just 23 years of age, the 6-8 small forward already is one of the top five defenders in the NBA, as evidenced by his regular season advanced numbers, and is quickly developing a really strong offensive game.
|D Win Shares||6.3||1|
|Steals Per Gm||1.8||7|
Based on the contract he will get, George is clearly the centerpiece of the franchise going forward. But his talented frontcourt compatriots, Roy Hibbert and David West, also are locked up for at least the next two seasons with player options for the 2015-2016 season.
George Hill, who emerged as one of the few top defensive players at his position last season, is signed for the next four years at a very affordable $8 million per season.
Danny Granger’s contract expires after next season, but that will actually work in the team’s favor. With Granger’s $14 million-plus deal coming off the books, the team will have plenty of options to build upon its aforementioned core quartet. The Pacers could elect to keep Granger at a reduced rate and also hold on to the emerging Lance Stephenson, whose contract expires next summer. Just look at Stephenson’s improvement:
|Stephenson||Min||FG %||Pts||Reb||PER||O Rtg||D Rtg||WS||WS/48|
As discussed about a month ago, the Granger-Stephenson fight for minutes and contract money will be the most compelling position battle in the game. Granger’s return will only improve the team’s depth, which we will get to in a bit. But answer this: Which Eastern Conference team is more set for the future than the Pacers?