Not long after Paul George informed the Indiana Pacers that he’d be opting out of his contract in 2018 and hitting free agency, general manager Kevin Pritchard started working the phones to find the best possible trade for Indy’s superstar with one year left on his deal.
One of those calls went to a team that could be desperate for a shakeup after a demoralizing five-game NBA Finals loss—the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According the Vertical, the two have discussed a potential deal involving George. The Cavs are reportedly willing to work on a deal with an assurance from George that he’d re-sign in free agency.
Unfortunately for Cavaliers fans, adding George wouldn’t upgrade the team’s big three to a big four. Thanks to prior trades, the soonest draft pick the Cavaliers can send out is a 2021 first-rounder, and their roster has zero potentially enticing young building blocks to offer in exchange for George.
That leaves one option left (unless the Pacers really overrate Tristan Thompson): Kevin Love.
As LeBron James ages, he’s becoming more and more suited to play power forward, where Love is most effective. At the same time, Love, who once averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists for the Minnesota Timberwolves, isn’t seeing his potential maximized as a third-option scorer with little else to offer outside of rebounding.
George, on the other hand, would provide Cleveland with something they so glaringly needed in their Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors—a wing who isn’t LeBron that can be a force on both ends of the floor.
The Pacers likely would have preferred one of the trade packages offered to them last season, but the three years remaining on the contract of Love, who’s shown in the past that he can be the fulcrum of a good offense, would not be a bad consolation prize.
If Indiana prefers a package of draft picks for George, the teams could involve a third party, like the Portland Trail Blazers, who own the 15th, 20th, and 26th overall picks in the 2017 NBA Draft, to take on Love and provide the Pacers with rebuilding pieces.