The Upcoming Contract Decisions on Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough

As the 2013 preseason comes to a close, the Indiana Pacers have some decisions to make on a couple of their key young players. Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough are entering the third and fourth years of their rookie-scale contracts, respectively. By Halloween, the Pacers will have to decide whether or not to pick up the fourth year option on Paul George and whether or not to offer Tyler Hansbrough an extension.

To me, both of these decisions are no-brainers.

The Paul George contract is low risk and high value. It is the best part of the CBA for the owners: the-rookie scale contract. At $3.3 million for just one year, George is an absolute bargain, regardless of whether he has a breakout season or not. There is no realistic scenario I can think of where the Pacers do not pick up George’s option.

Extending Tyler Hansbrough is the opposite.

It is high risk and probably low value option, particularly for franchise that needs to put a premium on cap flexibility. After losing most of his rookie season to a mysterious malady that left him unable to maintain his equilibrium, Hansbrough appeared to turn the corner in March 2011. He averaged almost 17 points and more than 7 rebounds that month to help the Pacers hang onto the 8th seed and make the playoffs.

He backpedaled last season, however, posting career low per-36-minute numbers in points (15.3) and rebounds (7.2). After scoring 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting in Game 1 of the 2011 Playoffs, Tyler only scored 82 points in his next 14 playoff games, shooting less than 30%.

Again, the Pacers have the luxury of Tyler coming off a rookie-scale contract. They can allow him to test free agency, but still have right of first refusal (restricted free agency), as long as they make a qualifying offer next summer of one year for just over $4.2 million. While the Pacers still like Hansbrough — Frank Vogel spoke well of him again after Tuesday night’s game — they would still be better served to wait and see what kind of year he has.

The deadline for both decisions is October 31. Stay tuned.

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Tags: Salary Central

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