Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James reportedly recruited Paul George last summer before a blockbuster deal fell apart that would have sent George to the Cavs and Kevin Love to the Denver Nuggets in a three-team trade.
A deal was reportedly in place, but Indiana Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard, who had been on the conference call when the deal was tentatively agreed to, sent the message that his team was backing out.
George, of course, was traded by the Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Cavs shipped star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics after he demanded a trade.
The Cavs’ biggest priority this summer will be trying to convince James to stay in Cleveland. They can pay him the most money, but can they acquire another star to pair with him? They will seemingly try, again.
According to a report from The Ringer, Cleveland’s interest in George has not waned. James and George will discuss teaming up with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, but perhaps that discussion could end up including the Cavs as well if James is intent on staying home.
Like James, George is expected to decline his 2018-19 player option to enter free agency this offseason. The swingman averaged 21.9 points for the Thunder this past season while shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from beyond the arc. He did undergo a scope procedure on his left knee on May 9, but will likely return to offseason basketball activities at some point between June 20 and July 4.
The Thunder internally have maintained that their main focus this offseason is to re-sign George, but they will have competition for his services. The Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers and Lakers will aggressively try to sign George, but maybe the Cavs can sneak into that list if James gets in the ear of George.
George will likely command a max contract, so the Cavs would need to pull off a sign-and-trade with the Thunder. For that to happen, though, George would need to opt into his player option for next season.
Love and the Cavs’ No. 8 pick would probably need to be included to obtain George.
But all that is really clear at this point is the Cavs want their superstar to stay put and are willing to explore the major moves it may take for it to happen.