Breaking down the Indiana Pacers' ability to sign Paul George in free agency

The Indiana Pacers would be a much better team if they could sign Paul George this summer. Do they have the money to do so? We break it down.

Apr 17, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) and guard Iman Shumpert
Apr 17, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) and guard Iman Shumpert / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers are a team on the rise. They are no longer in rebuild mode. They are trying to win now and win big. That's why they traded for Pascal Siakam earlier this season despite knowing they'll have to re-sign him this summer. They think they can win if they build the right roster around Tyrese Haliburton.

Paul George was the star player that the Pacers were building around a few years ago. Then he decided that he wanted out. George is a pending free-agent and his contract talks with the Clippers have apparently been stalling. He might be on the move this summer.

I asked Pacers fans on social media if they would like the idea of George coming back to Indiana. A majority of them said yes, although there were still some no's. So I decided to break down the financials to see if the Pacers could even afford to bring him back, All salary info is from Spotrac.

Breaking down the Pacers' financials reveals the affordability of Paul George

Right now, the Pacers have eight guaranteed contracts for next season. That adds up to about $88.9 million. Jalen Smith has a $5.4 million player option (probably going to pick that one up) so that has the Pacers at $94.3 million with nine players on the roster. Kendal Brown just re-signed a three-year deal, although his money isn't guaranteed, so add him in there. Now we're at $96.3 million with ten guys.

The salary cap for next season is $141 million. That means the Pacers have ~$44.6 million of cap room before re-signing Pascal Siakam. The Pacers never go over the cap and won't pay the luxury tax, so this is what they are stuck with financially.

Siakam is making $36 million now. I doubt he's going to want to take too much of a pay cut, if at all. The Pacers could also backload his contract so he makes more money at the end to make up for things, but that's risky if they sign him to a five-year deal. He'll be 34 at the end of that deal.

Let's say the Pacers give him a five-year deal worth $150 million. That would be about $30 million per season, which is less than what he's making now. For argument's sake, let's say the Pacers do backload it so he only makes $20 million next year. Now you have $24.6 million left for four players to fill out your roster.

The only way the Pacers could swing signing George is if he takes a significant pay cut and then sign minimum guys around him. That would mean cutting T.J. McConnell so his $9.3 million is off the books and not re-signing Obi Toppi or Doug McDermott.

Would George sign a backloaded three-year for $80 million? If they pay him ~$20 million in the first year, it would work to just sign minimum guys around the fringes of the roster. That's the only scenario in which the Pacers could afford him.


Is it worth giving up the best scoring bench in the NBA to sign a guy with an injury history like George? I'm not so sure.