Paul George Is Returning? What The F**K Are The Pacers Thinking?
Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant. Those are just two stars who returned from an injury too soon.
Paul George's injury was devastating -- the worst injury the sporting world has seen since Kevin Ware. Eight months later, he's getting back on the basketball court.
It's a huge mistake.
The Pacers are 10th in the east, fighting for the eighth spot. That may be the most irrelevant playoff spot in recent history -- although the Carolina Panthers' playoff berth was pretty ridiculous. The bottom line is that whatever team lands in the East's eight spot is only making the playoffs because the East is the West's JV league. And the Atlanta Hawks are going to bounce the Heat/Celtics/Pacers/Nets out of the playoffs in five -- maybe six -- games.
Paul George's health has been approved by doctors, and they known infinitely more than I do about recovering from a broken leg. But why in the world would you throw him into a meaningless playoff hunt? What do the Pacers gain? He's going to get on the court during a playoff push for the sake of earning a playoff spot that screams futility.
The Pacers are paying George $15.8 million this year -- that's a consideration. But they're paying him $16.9 million next year -- that's a bigger consideration. So they should consider his salary a sunk cost -- one they've incurred and can't recover -- and move on to the 2015-16 season.
The Pacers are also entering a pivotal offseason. Roy Hibbert and David West have player options, and to keep them, the Pacers will want to ensure them that Indiana is relevant again in the NBA. Hibbert will probably be a tougher sell than West, who seems to have one or two more years left in his career and will retire a Pacer. And admittedly, Hibbert might feel more comfortable with the Pacers franchise if he gets to see a heathy George in action. But if this backfires and George gets injured again, the Pacers are -- in a word -- fucked.
They'd be better served leaving George on the bench, where they can let fans be happily ignorant about his good health. While teams like the Knicks and Kings will get criticized for shutting down their best player, the Pacers don't have to suffer that criticism. Their best player was shut down, and should have been left that way. Rest him during another offseason -- ensure that he is stronger than ever. And please, don't create the next Derrick Rose.
They could get a lottery pick, instead of entering NBA purgatory -- the East's 8th seed -- where teams are left relatively powerless in free agency and the draft.
To many, there's the element of pride. But the rules in the NBA promote shamelessness -- missing the playoffs could mean another young, talented player that would improve this Indiana squad. And while it's pretty to think they can regain their 2013-14 form, it won't happen overnight. They might as well take advantage of an advantageous draft position.
And so hubris could sink this team. I hope for George's sake, that he maintains his health. The Pacers gain nothing and risk everything by putting their star back on the court.
Photo via Getty
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