Jeff Haynes / National Basketball Association / Getty
As this weekend once again showed, things can go haywire quickly during NBA draft and free-agent season. Word that Paul George has one foot out the door with the Indiana Pacers ramped up the PG-13-to-the-Lakers talk Sunday. But that was before reports emerged that the Cleveland Cavaliers – desperate to win another title and possibly unconcerned by the future – were jumping into the mix.
The situation leaves the Pacers with little leverage. Conventional wisdom now means trading George quickly, although they could theoretically create some leverage between the Lakers and the Cavs.
While one school of thought is the Lakers could merely sit back and sign the four-time All-Star as a free agent in 2018, there has to be some cause for concern: Teaming up with LeBron James on a championship franchise not only places him in a winning culture, but the Cavs would also inherit his Bird Rights in a trade.
Of course, given the LeBron-to-the-Lakers-in-2018 chatter of the last week, maybe that doesn’t matter. But it unquestionably indicates the Cavaliers are determined to win now – even if they don’t have their current general manager under contract beyond the end of this month.
Here are three ways a trade could get done fast:
Cavs obtain him straight-up for Kevin Love
From the standpoint of salary-matching, this is a logical deal. Love is less than two years older than George, and he’s under contract through at least 2019. Love’s offensive numbers have understandably tapered off playing with James and Kyrie Irving, but it wasn’t that long ago he was averaging more than 23 points a game to go with rebounds in the teens and 3-point shooting over 37 percent for the Timberwolves.
A Love-Myles Turner frontcourt could be very interesting. The Cavs could further mortgage their future by throwing in a pick.
Cavs, Pacers find 3-way partner in Suns
Bill Simmons’ shot in the dark here comes under the auspices that the Pacers would prefer to blow things up more completely and start from scratch. However, the Suns present an intriguing option because it hasn’t seemed they’ve been married to their own rebuild. They’ve chased big-name free agents every summer since 2014, and GM Ryan McDonough has said that will likely continue this summer.
The Lakers jump in
Some Pacers fans may wish Larry Bird was still team president so he could try to talk his old buddy Magic Johnson into a trade just out of decency. The Lakers reportedly won’t deal any of their blue-chip youth, and that’s because they don’t have to if they know George is coming to L.A. regardless.
However, if the Cavs can adequately scare Magic and Rob Pelinka with the idea that LeBron and George will set up shop in Cleveland for the next half-decade, would they blink? Trading for the L.A. County native now also ensures his Bird Rights, taking care of any concern about someone else paying George the max.
|Lakers get||Pacers get|
|Paul George||Jordan Clarkson|
Welcome to crazy season.