First, Jimmy Butler ended up in Minnesota, and not Cleveland. And now Paul George is headed to Oklahoma City, and not Cleveland.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, George has been dealt to the Thunder, where he’ll now team up with Russell Westbrook. Heading to Indiana are Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Paul George has been traded to OKC, per sources— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 1, 2017
Hearing Oladipo and Sabonis going to Indy— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 1, 2017
It’s unclear how close the Cavs were to landing George. The Pacers didn’t seem interested in a George-for-Kevin Love swap and a reported talks of a three-team deal involving the Nuggets never came to fruition. But for a player of George’s caliber, even on a rental, Oladipo and Sabonis is a low, low price. Not only does it seem like there could be a deal the Cavs could have found to beat that, but it’s odd that a team asset-rich team like the Celtics didn’t land George. Of note: ESPN’s Dave MacMenamin reports that Indiana was unwilling to deal George to a team in the East.
Now the Cavs will have to look to improve their team in other ways. Landing George or Butler would have been the coup of the summer for Cleveland. Landing either player would have been the best way to retool and, in theory, better match the Warriors next year as LeBron James heads into what could be the last year of his contract.
With both stars off the table, Love is far more likely to stay in Cleveland — there just aren’t many players worth dealing him for, and the two most obvious candidates are no longer on the table. The Cavs will have to hope their taxpayer middle level exception, minimum contracts and perhaps their 2021 pick and international prospect Cedi Osman are enough to improve.
It would also help if the Cavs had hired David Griffin’s replacement, as it’s very close to the official start of free agency (and it’s really already underway) and the team hasn’t even gotten around to that.