Losing Paul George has taken an emotional toll on the Pacers and their fans, and although it might be far from his mind now, owner Herb Simon will also take a financial hit from the injury to the tune of an estimated $17.5 million.
ESPN.com spoke to team and league executives to help estimate the fiscal damage from George breaking his leg and perhaps missing the entire season. Here is what they came up with.
First, let's start with paying George himself. He is owed $15.8 million for the season. The NBA's insurance policy allows a team to recoup 80 percent of a player's salary once that player has missed 41 consecutive games with the same injury.
Starting at Game 42, the Pacers will get back $154,146 per game missed for George, per the terms of the league's insurance policy. That adds up to $6.32 million. So assuming George misses the entire regular season, the Pacers will be out $9.48 million on George's salary alone.
Then there's ticket sales. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver projects that without George, the team will go six games over .500 (44-38). So looking at Indiana's historical attendance based on that record, it can be assumed that the team will host at least 1,500 fewer fans per game, which equals about $2.5 million in ticket sales. Then tack on roughly $600,000 in lost merchandise and concession sales.
The bigger ticket loss will be playing in fewer playoff games at home, assuming the Pacers won't advance as far as they would have if they had George. Let's assume the Pacers now get only two playoff home games instead of advancing to at least the Eastern Conference finals and getting eight. At an average of $750,000 per game in net profit, that's $4.5 million. On the positive side, NBA sources confirm that the Pacers secured most of the high-end suite renewals in the run up to the playoffs last season, meaning the big dollars there are protected from George's injury.
Finally, there's a drop of $500,000 in sponsorship and marketing due to the fact that a little of the buzz is gone from Indy.
The total estimated cost for the loss of George this season: $17,580,000.