Ordinarily I wouldn't divert attention away from the pigskin or the curve ball this time of year, but something monumental is taking place in the NBA. The Indiana Pacers and small forward Paul George have agreed to terms on a contract extension worth 80-90 million. On the surface it may seem like a fairly insignificant deal, but the signing gives us insight into the future of the league. Here are 5 things we learned from this deal.
1. The NBA is no longer about franchise players. The MoHeatos started this trend and the fact Paul George chose to stay in a small market rather than test free agency is evidence the trend will continue. The solo acts are few and far between.
2. The East is the dominant conference. For the first time in several decades the Eastern conference has more depth than the Western conference. For the next 5 years stars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, and now Paul George pretty much guarantee the East will produce the NBA champion during that time.
3. Miami's reign can't last forever. I still think Miami will squeeze out 2 or 3 more championships, but their window of opportunity is closing fast and their margin for error is zero. Untimely injuries or free agent busts (Greg Oden, Michael Beasley) could derail their chance at immortality.
4. The Lakers model is obsolete. The Los Angeles Lakers can no longer sit around and wait for the biggest free agent on the market. They must try to find a way to sign at least two. The Dwightmare showed us LA can not rely solely on palm trees, Magic Johnson, and Jack Nicholson to attract big names. The Lakers must adapt or become a non factor in the new NBA.
5. The NBA draft is important again. This statement mostly pertains to the small market teams, but the bigger markets need to take advantage as well. The draft doesn't have a lot of depth so you have to make the selection count. You need to pick Kawhi Leonard or Damian Lillard types instead of Wesley Johnson or Derrick Williams.