When the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors in five games in the NBA Finals, one thing was certain: The Cavs needed to improve in order to beat the Warriors in a seven-game series. With Golden State adding Kevin Durant last summer, who is arguably the second-best player in the league behind LeBron James, there wasn’t much that the wine and gold could do that quickly.
Improving defensively, becoming quicker, getting a better bench unit, or adding more youth and athleticism, the Cavs needed to find a way to get better to take down the Warriors, who could go down as one of the best teams in NBA history. One player they could have added this offseason was Paul George. According to multiple reports, the Cavs and Indiana Pacers were on the verge of a three-team deal on draft night, but the deal fell through at the last minute.
Although the details of that deal were not known, one thing was certain: George would have been a Cav. In his latest piece last Friday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski not only confirmed that the deal was close to happening, but also explained the details of said deal. According to Wojnarowski, this was the three-team deal:
Cavs get: Paul George
Pacers get: Gary Harris, Cavs’ future first-round pick
Denver Nuggets get: Kevin Love
The deal fell apart because Indiana didn’t want any protections on the first rounder they would receive from Cleveland, while the Cavs wanted the pick to have a lottery protection, meaning that the wine and gold would be able to keep the pick if they did not make the postseason that year and were therefore in the NBA Draft Lottery.
Another deal that reportedly fell through was one that Indiana offered Cleveland multiple times; George for Kyrie Irving straight-up. The Cavs continually declined the deal and wanted more, for obvious reasons. One of those reasons was due to the fact that George is going into the final year of his contract, while Irving still has two years left plus a player option.
While the Cavs failed to acquire either Jimmy Butler (traded from Chicago Bulls to Minnesota Timberwolves) or Paul George (traded from Pacers to Oklahoma City Thunder), it seems as though they did all they could to acquire one of the two, especially George. Although they know they must improve, they weren’t willing to get the bad half of a deal, which was smart of the front office at the time.1
Although it would have been nice to see George donning the wine and gold during the upcoming season, the Cavs couldn’t afford to be desperate and pull the trigger on a bad deal. Then again, even though Cleveland reportedly turned down the deals, it seems as though the fact that Irving was involved in the trade talks was one of the many reasons why he wants out of Cleveland.
- Did the equation just change with Kyrie Irving’s trade demand? [↩]