If the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2017 campaign proved one thing, it’s that they’re not on the Golden State Warriors’ level. Barring a major injury to one of the Warriors’ key players, Cleveland needs help to regain the throne.
After the Cavs were soundly defeated in the Finals, speculation immediately began that they’d make a move. And Indiana Pacers forward Paul George is one player whose name crossed their radar.
Will they actually make a move for George, which would seriously impact Cleveland’s betting futures? Who would they have to give up to get the All-Star forward?
Let’s answer these questions below.
Indiana Needs to Get Rid of George Before He Leaves
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Paul George has already informed the Pacers that he intends to become a free agent in 2018. And if he does this, his first choice would be the L.A. Lakers.
Not only is George from the LA area, but he also sees the marketing opportunities of living here. So it’s in Indiana’s best interests to get something for him before George leaves willingly.
Here’s more from McMenamin on the matter:
The Cavs are willing to enter into trade talks for George without any assurances he will commit to a long-term deal in Cleveland, a source familiar with the Cavs’ thinking told ESPN. Cleveland is confident its championship culture and overall atmosphere could sway George to want to stay after playing out the 2017-18 season on the final year of his deal.
That said, there are only two assets the Cavs possess that would likely grab the Pacers’ attention in a potential swap (operating under the assumption that LeBron James is untouchable): Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
And to part with either the 25-year-old Irving or the 28-year-old Love, both coming off All-Star seasons and on relatively economical long-term deals, without any verbal commitment from George that he planned to stay in Cleveland beyond 2018 would be “hard” to agree to, one source familiar with the Cavs’ thinking told ESPN.
As this report shows, Cleveland trading for Paul George is far from a sure thing. The only assets they have that would tempt the Pacers include Irving and Love. To move one of these players – both of whom have multiple years on their deals – for a potential one-year rental doesn’t make a lot of sense.
On the other hand, taking a chance on George and being able to re-sign him may be Cleveland’s best chance of beating Golden State.
LeBron James would Immediately Mesh with George
Following Cleveland’s four-game sweep of the Pacers, James was quick to complement his friend as a “big-time player” LeBron added that he and George have “a really good friendship, I’m going to leave it at that.”
Assuming Cleveland adds George, it would immediately create the best forward pairing in the league. George would likely resume his role as a swingman, while James would move to power forward, and Love to center (if he’s not traded).
What’s Best for Indiana in this Situation?
With George set for 2018 free agency and already talking about the Lakers, potential suitors are waning. Indiana needs to find a trade partner that not only wants George to contend, but also thinks they have a serious chance of changing his mind.
This limits them to Cleveland and a handful of other teams that may be willing to give up a serious asset.
The other side to this is the Lakers, who haven’t engaged in serious trade talks with Indiana because they feel that they can sit back and wait until 2018. Assuming George is as die-hard about signing with them as he appears, then they shouldn’t need to risk any assets.
Will the Cavs Trade for George?
Irving is one of the league’s best isolation players and perhaps the top finishing point guard. Love brings elite rebounding and three-point shooting to the power forward position.
Meanwhile, George is a 6’9″ forward who moves like a guard. He’s also capable of guarding the Warriors’ Kevin Durant, something that Cleveland could desperately use to free up James.
Taking this into account, they might just take a chance on the George trade in hopes that he’ll help them beat Golden State.