Paul George won't have the opportunity to enjoy being a member of the NBA's loaded free agent class of 2014, according to Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird. That isn't to say that George won't enter restricted free agency, just that the Pacers will match any offer their standout swingman receives.
The 23-year-old will become a restricted free agent next year if they don't re-sign him to a contract extension prior to Oct. 31, but it might not be in George's best interests to search out potential suitors if he truly wants to leave the Pacers. Reason being, Bird's decision to match any potential offers would lock him up long-term in Indiana ... and away from a big market like Los Angeles.
George apparently wouldn't mind playing in a big market, either, as he made some headlines earlier in the week when asked about a potential offer from the Lakers:
George said that him hypothetically joining the Lakers would certainly be a "family-favorite team."
"Of course it would be tough (to say no to Kobe). You're talking about playing [at] home."
It probably isn't reassuring news for Pacers fans that George would have trouble turning down the Lakers, but they won't have to worry about that as long as Bird stays true to his word. That might not be easy, though, as it could put the Pacers on the hook for a max extension for a player that didn't really assert himself as a top player until the most recent NBA playoffs.