The Cleveland Cavaliers were on the cusp of landing not only popular trade target Paul George, but athletic Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe as well.
But they didn’t pull the trigger—all because LeBron James wouldn’t commit to the Cavaliers long term, according to a report from Cleveland Scene editor-in-chief Vince Grzegorek.
With their front office situation in flux before the draft, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert apparently had a three-team deal in place with the Suns and Indiana Pacers that would have sent Kyrie Irving to Phoenix, Eric Bledsoe and Paul George to Cleveland, and the No. 4 pick to the Pacers (Josh Jackson was later selected there).
In the rearview now but heard from very reliable source talks were very real pic.twitter.com/lxGyZKjZVM
— Vince Grzegorek (@vincethepolack) June 26, 2017
It would have been an interesting all-in move for Cleveland, who entered the 2017 NBA Finals devoid of two-way players—after LeBron, the closest thing to an above-average player on both sides of the ball on the Cavs roster was … I don’t know, J.R. Smith?
While losing Irving would hurt, the team isn’t exactly starving for scoring with James and Kevin Love on the roster. Bledsoe and George would have made for two defensive stalwarts that are also serious threats on the offensive end. But George will be a free agent next season, and Bledsoe, while cheap, has struggled with knee injuries, making it impossible to know how effective he’ll be next year.
Regardless, the deal fell apart for a reason that should terrify Cavaliers fans—because James wouldn’t commit to playing for his hometown team beyond the 2017-18 season; his contract expires next year.
James’ wife has said she’d like to live “full time” in Los Angeles, and after the firing of general manager David Griffin, James expressed dissatisfaction with the franchise’s direction.