The NBA season is over, which sucks a lot. Especially since yours truly is a Cavaliers fan. Instead of a parade back-to-back years, the Cavs are gathering around the drawing board to see what they can do to keep up with Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. It may seem like a daunting task, but there is an answer for the Cavs this summer: Paul George.
Yes, the Indiana Pacers star should absolutely be on the radar for the Cavs as they retool this offseason. And yes, I know, George isn’t a free agent. But he will be a free agent next summer and with things not looking particularly great in Indy, it seems highly likely that he’ll be on the move.
So if you’re the Pacers, do you just wait around for George to leave or do you move him beforehand and get as much as you can? My guess would be that they try to get as much as they can for their star player rather than just letting him walk for nothing. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for a franchise but one that could start the rebuild quicker than if they were to wait. Now, if they do decide to go down the route of trading George, which seems likely, since they reportedly listened to offers for him during last season’s trade deadline, the Cavaliers have to seriously look at making a move.
How would the Cavs pull this off? Well, it wouldn’t be easy, but it’s certainly doable. The first thing that would have to happen would be for George to put pressure on the Pacers with a threat that he won’t re-up with any other team. This would sort of force the Pacers' hand and scare other teams away. There’s really no indication George would do this, but the young forward is close with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, which puts everything on the table.
Of course, this would be a risk for the Cavs. You would be completely shaking up your championship core for the unknown. But hey, that’s the nature of the NBA today.
Next, the Cavs would need to figure out what to give up that would be enough to get George. With their current assets (almost nothing) the only viable answer here is Kevin Love. He’s still an elite player and is on a very good contract that was signed before the cap spike.
It’s likely that any Cavs and Pacers deal involving Love and George wouldn’t be straight up, though. The Pacers would probably want draft picks, which the Cavs don’t have. This would then have to involve a third team, say like the Phoenix Suns. The Suns currently own the fourth pick in the draft and have a ton of good young players. A situation where Love goes to Phoenix and the Pacers get young talent and picks with George going to the Cavs would make sense.
A lot has to happen, but this would be the right move for the Cavs. This is also probably unfair to Love, who was good in this year’s NBA Finals and had big moments during the Cavs’ championship run. He’s a legend in Cleveland no matter what, but with the way the Warriors look with Durant, the Cavs need to adjust.
With a player like George, the Cavs would have a versatile, elite scoring wing entering his prime who could take the load off of LeBron and Kyrie. That was one of the major problems for the Cavs this time versus the Warriors. They couldn’t rest LeBron and Kyrie without the game getting out of hand. George is talented enough where he could carry the load and hold his own.
Of course, this would be a risk for the Cavs. They would be completely shaking up their championship core for the unknown. But hey, that’s the nature of the NBA today. One team sets the bar and the rest have to try to reach it. Durant and the Warriors made their move, and now it’s time for the Cavs to go out and make theirs.