Hibbert ‘cool’ with Paul George taking the reigns
Roy Hibbert is okay with designating 23-year-old Paul George, who begins his fourth NBA season next month, the leader of the team. Hibbert, the second-longest tenured Pacers player behind Danny Granger, tweeted the following on Monday:
@Hoya2aPacer I got yours too big dog! ALWAYS bro! Im back next week to work with you
— Paul George (@Paul_George24) August 26, 2013
After the first month last season, George improved greatly and took on more responsibility in the absence of Danny Granger (patellar tendinosis). His brand boomed in the playoffs, as he helped the Pacers make it all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, falling on the road to the eventual champion Miami Heat. In 19 playoff games, George averaged a team-high 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists.
The awards piled up for No. 24 last season: 2013 All-Star (the first player in his 2010 draft class to earn that distinction), NBA’s Most Improved Player, named to All-Defensive Second Team, and voted to All-NBA Third Team.
Although George became the face of the Pacers late last season, they will remain a balanced and close-knit group, which was never demonstrated any better than at the postgame press conference following their Game 6 victory over New York in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Talking about the big win and advancing to the conference finals, all five starters went to the podium together.
David West, who re-signed with the team this offseason (three years, $36 million), will remain the culture setter and the backbone of the team. He keeps the team steady, constantly saying that they must remain on an even keel. They don’t want to get too high or low following a few games or a big win or loss.
One of the best things about West is he keeps the locker room in check, simply by being in the room.
“They understand there’s a level of conduct that’s expected and they carry that out,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said in July, after West re-upped with the team. “That’s even better than putting somebody in line.”
When camp gets underway on September 28th, it’s a very good possibility that George will have his future settled as well. He’ll be entering the final year of his rookie contract and the Pacers have every intention to re-sign him. George said last month that a rough draft of a contract extension was formed and that he’d like to have it handled before the new season.
“I would love to have something done going into the season just to take my mind off that and really get to practicing and focusing on getting better this summer,” he said. “It would be ideal if I could get it done going into training camp.”