The Cavaliers very nearly snagged Paul George this offseason in a deal that would have sent Kevin Love to Denver, and despite a narrative that already has one foot out the door for Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, it appeared he was hard-selling George on a future in Cleveland this summer. Via an ESPN report from Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst:
"James aggressively recruited George behind the scenes last summer, selling him on a future together in Cleveland, but the Cavs deal mysteriously fell apart before George was dealt to Oklahoma City."
Why does this matter now? Well, in a lot of ways it doesn’t, but you can extrapolate a couple key points.
First, it’s worth nothing that LeBron was selling George on a future together in Cleveland. That doesn’t mean that there’s no chance James leaves Cleveland for greener pastures this summer, but it probably means he hadn’t already made up his mind in June as some would like to indicate. LeBron may be a political animal, but straight up lying to Paul George about his intentions would be problematic at best.
Second, this is important because, as you might have heard, the Thunder have been fairly underwhelming this season with their new Big Three™, and George’s contract expires at the end of the season. If GM Sam Presti is concerned they won’t be able to keep George in town, then it could be prudent to try to flip him and extrapolate extra value, especially when you consider that Russell Westbrook has already signed his long-term extension with the team.
The Cavaliers are probably the only team reckless enough to part with as valuable of an asset as Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick, and with James putting the full-court press on George, they have a solid chance to actually keep him. It would be a risk, but James is obviously a fan of George’s game and adding a player of his quality could go a long way in convincing James to stay in town.