Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird saw Lance Stephenson standing in the crowd during a news conference to announce Paul George’s contract extension and decided to send a little love to the fast-improving guard.

“Don’t worry Lance” Bird said. “You’re going to have this next year.”

That’s when Bird will concern himself more about the potential financial impact on the rest of the team caused by George’s extension which was announced Wednesday.

“I’m not going to say this team is going to be together forever but right now we’re going to enjoy it because they’re good guys and they’ve got a lot of talent” Bird said. “I don’t know if they’ll get to the Finals because you’ve got to go through Miami Chicago Brooklyn and all that but I do feel right now we have a better team than what we put out there last year (when the Pacers lost to Miami in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals).”

The Pacers did not reveal contract details. But several people with the team or involved in the negotiations referred to it as a five-year contract (the fifth year is a player option) and as a “max deal” meaning George will be paid at least $90 million.

Bird agreed the George signing gives the Pacers less financial flexibility. They have approximately $64 million committed to nine players for the 2014-15 season leaving little room to re-sign Stephenson who will be entering the final year of his NBA entry-level contract and fill out a roster with a salary cap that will be a small increase from this season’s $70.3 million according to www.hoopsworld.com.

Longtime team leader Danny Granger likely will become a free agent after this season. Bird and Pacers officials have made it clear they have no plans to pay the NBA luxury tax so keeping a young Pacers team together for the long term could be a challenge.

For now those concerns are secondary to putting the best possible team on the court for this season Bird said.