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CLEVELAND — Things haven’t gone great early in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are struggling.
Granted, they’re not terrible, and they certainly deserve more time with their new Big Three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
But when you’re the Thunder, time is of the essence. After all, George can become a free agent at the end of the season. It’s the entire reason he’s in OKC — the Indiana Pacers feared they would lose George for nothing. So they shipped him off to the Thunder.
At the time of the trade, the fear was George would leave at the end of the season for the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s a real fear, and the Lakers were even fined for tampering in an ordeal centered on George.
That fear remains the same for the Thunder. They run the risk of losing George for nothing in free agency.
Before trading George to OKC, Indiana had a deal worked out with the Cavs. It would’ve sent George to Cleveland. The Pacers backed out. They traded George to the Thunder instead.
So far, George and the Thunder appear to be an iffy proposition. They are gambling that George will want to remain beyond this season. If not, it will be a major loss.
The Cavs? They’re all about the right here and right now, trying to win another championship while the window exists.
George is a 6-foot-9 small forward who can do it all. He is averaging 20 points and six rebounds for the Thunder.
“From a strategy point, if I were the Cavs, I’d keep an eye on the George situation,” NBA insider Brian Windhorst said on ESPN Cleveland radio.
Well, guess what? The Cavs most likely are doing precisely that.
PATHS TO PAUL
Of course, the Cavs are hardly in dire straights. They have won nine straight following Tuesday’s 108-97 dismantling of the Miami Heat.
They still don’t have a healthy Isaiah Thomas (or Tristan Thompson or Derrick Rose, for that matter). So the Cavs are just now starting to figure it out after a rugged start. Maybe they don’t want to mess with success.
But maybe they do. Maybe they would be willing to do exactly that, if getting another star makes sense, and if getting that star is relatively pain-free.
In fact, the Cavs are more than willing, more than able, and more than exploring adding to the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Love and the rest of the current cast.
They may not have their sights set on George or any one man. Still, they are constantly investigating.
It’s true that landing George many not be so easy, at least not yet. But perhaps the Cavs can convince the Thunder that someone such as Thompson would be a better fit.
After all, a lot of times in the NBA, it is indeed all about fit. As we are seeing with the Thunder, it’s not always about pure star power.
Or maybe the Cavs could get a third team involved. In the NBA, if you want a guy badly enough, there are ways to get him.
And if the Thunder continue down their current path, the avenues to George will undoubtedly be easier to travel.
The Cavs, without question, will travel those avenues again if the opportunity presents itself — and quite honestly, it just might.