A year hasn’t even passed since Paul George brazenly declared to The Vertical’s Michael Lee that he was “ready” to challenge LeBron James. Now, one frustrating season and unbalanced roster later, the Indiana Pacers presumably may need the King’s team to avoid losing their franchise star for pennies on the dollar.
Don’t be mistaken. Unless some fringe contender or star-hungry lottery club works up the courage to belly up to the bargaining table without assurances from George, the Pacers are best served keeping the lines of communication open with Cleveland. In that scenario, they can at least attempt to reroute the two remaining seasons on Kevin Love’s contract or maybe persuade the Lakers to blink first.
All of which is why the events of yesterday — when Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and general manager David Griffin parted company — matter so much.
According to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, Griffin was “elbow deep” working to cobble together a deal to land Chicago’s Jimmy Butler as late as one hour before the end of his tenure on Monday. Meanwhile, Adrian Wojnarowski reported over the weekend that the Pacers were attempting to discuss Paul George-centric deals with the Cavs. With assistant general manager Koby Altman “fielding trade phone calls” until a new hire is made, assuming that those talks will stall in the immediate doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility.
Chauncey Billups landing the gig also has the potential to compound matters for the Pacers. The 2004 Finals MVP, who shared the court with Carmelo Anthony in Denver and New York, openly admitted that he would trade Kevin Love for his former teammate during a segment on ESPN’s NBA Countdown earlier this season.
Earlier this season, Chauncey Billups advocated for the Cavaliers to trade Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony... pic.twitter.com/ozanOKg6Rq— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) June 20, 2017
LeBron James publicly sharing his disappointment with Griffin’s ouster only adds to the turmoil.
If no one appreciated you Griff I did, and hopefully all the people of Cleveland! Thanks for what u did for the team for 3 yrs! We got us 1— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 20, 2017
So, maybe that rumor about LeBron James going to LA in 2018 to play with Paul George, rather than Paul George being traded to Cleveland, isn’t that much of a long-shot after all?
All of that and more was discussed on the latest episode of Locked on Cavaliers hosted by Fear the Sword’s Chris Manning. I joined the podcast to share my instant reaction to the Paul George Woj bomb (28:05), hypothetical trades (34:19), and more:
30:14 — What sort of assets should Indiana be looking to get for George?
34:19 — Daydreaming about potential multi-team trades
36:00 — Why swapping Kevin Love 1-for-1 doesn’t makes sense for the Pacers
36:50 — The dangers of waiting to move George
38:18 — Dealing directly with the Lakers, D’Angelo Russell, and offers too good to turn down
43:45 — Too soon to talk about LeBron going to LA?
47:50 — George’s role on the 2016 Olympic team and how it foreshadows his potential role in Cleveland
49:30 — If Paul George does get traded to Cleveland, how would he fit? Will he be comfortable off-ball? Playing the four? Having his primary role be defense?
54:37 — How comfortable would the Cavs be with a rental?