George is definitely being traded. Here is one potential option that could take place.
The Indiana Pacers are taking their time to trade Paul George, but they’re still headed in that direction. The latest rumor, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, is that the Denver Nuggets might be involved as a third team in a potential deal.
Indiana has needed to trade George ever since it was reported last week that he informed the team he would not be returning once hitting free agency in 2018. George reportedly likes the Lakers as his preferred destination, but that’s inconsequential for Indiana. All they know is that keeping George while he’s on his way out the door would be a wasted season.
It sounded like the Pacers might trade George leading up to the NBA draft, but that arbitrary deadline passed them by. Their general manager Kevin Pritchard said that he had multiple deals on the table, but was biding his time to find the one he liked the best. The only thing we know for certain is that George won’t be in Indiana next season.
Any potential trade involving those three teams would certainly send George to Cleveland and Love to Denver. Another potential piece would be Kenneth Faried to the Cavaliers, as Haynes mentioned, and young assets of some kind to Indiana. Indy Cornrows, SB Nation’s Pacers blog, actually predicted a similar trade last week.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Denver Nuggets reportedly made a “monster” offer for Indiana’s two-way star at the deadline but talks never gained traction because George wasn’t willing to commit there long-term. Perhaps the possibility of two guaranteed seasons of Love’s stretch shooting complementing Nikola Jokic and opening the paint for Jamal Murray would again pique Denver’s interest?
Here’s why each team would do it.
Why this would make sense for Cleveland
We’ve talked at length about this. Basically, George gives the Cavaliers another versatile wing defender more equipped to play against the Warriors. In the Finals, Love and Tristan Thompson could rarely, if ever, spend time on the court together. By exchanging George for Love, you erase any chance that your best lineup has to bench one of your top-five players. Adding Faried might be good insurance for Thompson, too, who was horrid in that most recent series between the league’s two superteams.
Why this would make sense for Indiana
The Pacers have never wanted Kevin Love, Cleveland’s most expendable asset. He’s a great player, but he’s 28 and Indiana’s about to head into rebuilding mode. Instead, the Pacers want young prospects or draft picks, something a third team like Denver could provide. Maybe it’s Emmanuel Mudiay, who was reportedly in trade talks on draft day, or maybe it’s recently acquired Trey Lyles or Tyler Lydon plus a 2018 or 2019 first round pick. Either way, that’s the type of haul that the Pacers are looking for out of a George trade.
Why this would make sense for Denver
The Nuggets are wanting to jumpstart their young team into playoff contention, and they think they’re close. They almost did it last year only to fall short of the No. 8 seed thanks to Portland’s strong surge. They’ve been in the market for true stars who can compliment their own budding one, Nikola Jokic. Love fits that criteria and is likely available for pretty cheap, all things considered. It’s Indiana who’s taking the biggest loss in this potential deal, but that was unavoidable from the moment teams realized the Pacers had no other choice.
The counterpoints for Denver are clear: this is the Warriors’ league for the next few seasons, so why rush their timeline? Can Jokic and Love, two rather slow-footed big men, survive defensively in the modern NBA? But offensively, those two fit excellently — Love doesn’t affect Jokic’s pet spot, the elbow, and spaces the floor as a shooter. And perhaps the veteran infusion of a star player is exactly what Denver thinks is best for the Nuggets to take the next step.