Kevin Love

Cavaliers Were Close To Acquiring Paul George

The Cavaliers nearly landed Paul George in a three-team deal in late June, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst.

The trade would have sent Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris and other assets to Indiana, but Pacers president Kevin Pritchard reportedly backed out before everything was finalized.

Prior to the draft, Cleveland made trade offers to the Pacers for George and to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler. Once the Wolves acquired Butler on draft night, the Cavs stepped up their efforts for George, with the Nuggets agreeing to send Harris and the No. 13 pick to Cleveland, which would include those assets in a deal with Indiana. However, the Pacers put the trade on hold as they talked to the Trail Blazers about a deal to acquire all three of Portland’s first-rounders in exchange for George. Both proposals eventually fell through.

The Cavs continued to work on the trade following the draft, and an agreement was reached on June 30th. All three teams tentatively okayed to the deal on a conference call, and Cleveland began targeting free agents to fit with George. However, Pritchard changed his mind and the news broke soon after that George was headed to Oklahoma City.

The failed trade was part of a tumultuous offseason for the Cavaliers, as the ESPN authors examine in a lengthy piece. Cleveland also parted ways with GM David Griffin and was unable to land Chauncey Billups, who interviewed twice as a potential replacement. The team missed out on marquee free agents and had to settle for Jose Calderon and Jeff Green. Then star guard Kyrie Irving held a meeting with owner Dan Gilbert on July 7th where he issued a request to be traded.

Irving was reportedly angry that his name had been included in offers for Butler and George, and has been unhappy for some time with how much James dominates the ball. He also believes the team defers too much to James, noting that LeBron’s friend, Randy Mims, was given a position as executive administrator and flies on the team plane, while none of Irving’s friends has a similar arrangement.

The front office and the players have been aware of Irving’s intentions for two weeks, and there is confidence in the organization that the team can get enough assets for Irving to remain a contender. The Cavs have been inundated with calls from interested teams since the story broke on Friday.

Latest On Paul George

There’s a near-unanimous view around the league that Paul George will sign with the Lakers next summer despite Friday’s trade to the Thunder, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Lowe states that the chances of George heading to L.A. are about 75%, and the Celtics and Cavaliers had that in mind as they were working to obtain him.

The Lakers also subscribe to that view, which is why they weren’t willing to part with Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball to get George from the Pacers now. Lowe adds that Indiana didn’t have any interest in former Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell, who was subsequently dealt to the Nets.

The ESPN writer shares more information about Friday’s major deal:

  • The Celtics wanted to see if they could land Gordon Hayward in free agency before completing a trade for George. They were reluctant to deal two starters in exchange for George without knowing whether they were getting Hayward.
  • Boston’s last offer for George didn’t include Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, the 2018 Nets pick or the Lakers/Kings pick that Boston received from Philadelphia. There were reports that the Celtics offered Indiana three picks at some point, but Lowe believes those were a combination of Boston’s future selections and protected 2019 first-rounders from the Grizzlies and Clippers. All of those draft choices could have fallen into the 20s, Lowe notes, and the Pacers wanted something more likely to be in the top 10.
  • A three-way trade involving the Pacers, Cavaliers and Nuggets was discussed on Friday. The deal would have sent George to Cleveland, Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris, Trey Lyles and a protected first-rounder to Indiana. Lowe describes the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Celtics as “stunned” when news broke that George was headed to Oklahoma City.
  • The Trail Blazers tried to get George on draft night, offering a package that included several picks and at least one player, but the Pacers turned it down.

Celtics ‘Stunned’ By Thunder’s Paul George Trade

Like the rest of the NBA world, the Celtics were “stunned” by Friday’s news that the Pacers agreed to send Paul George to Oklahoma City in a trade for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.

[RELATED: Pacers to trade Paul George to Thunder]

Boston had been planning to put a formal, competitive offer on the table for George, but the team wasn’t ready to try to finalize a deal with the Pacers until Gordon Hayward made a decision, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (link via RealGM).

According to Wojnarowski, the Pacers were interested in a package of Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and multiple picks from the Celtics. Sources told Bulpett that the Celtics were “more than ready” to propose a deal that included multiple players and picks, suggesting that Boston’s best offer probably would have been Crowder, Smart, and three future first-rounders (likely some combination of the Celtics’ own picks and the Grizzlies’ and Clippers’ picks).

Previous reports had suggested that the Celtics were unwilling to include their 2018 Nets and Lakers first-rounders, or recent lottery picks Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Between Wojnarowski’s and Bulpett’s accounts, there seems to be a little ambiguity about whether what was actually on the table for the Pacers from the Celtics. I get the impression that Boston likely would’ve been willing to offer Crowder, Smart, and multiple first-rounders eventually, but weren’t prepared to make a commitment yet, prompting the Pacers to move on to make a deal with the Thunder.

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, many NBA executives he has spoken to believe that Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard was too “hell-bent” on keeping George out of the Eastern Conference. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) confirms that he has heard this too, though he adds that some Western teams are confused because they felt their offers were better than Oklahoma City’s.

According to Wojnarowski, one scenario involving a Western team that the Pacers turned down was an offer of Gary Harris and a protected first-round pick (which likely would’ve become a second-rounder) from the Nuggets. George would have gone to Cleveland in that scenario, with the Nuggets getting Kevin Love.

Lowe’s Latest: George, Hayward, Ibaka, Gallinari

A proposed scenario that would see the Celtics sign Gordon Hayward, trade for Paul George, and sign George to a contract extension isn’t realistic, writes Zach Lowe in his latest report for ESPN.com. As Lowe points out, there would be no reason for George to re-up with Boston right away in that scenario unless he could renegotiate a maximum salary, and it would be extremely difficult for the C’s to accommodate such a deal without moving Al Horford.

Knowing that if they acquire George, he could be a rental, the Celtics have thus far been unwilling to include Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick, or the Lakers’ 2018 first-rounder in any of their offers to Indiana, Lowe reports. Lowe’s best guess at Boston’s offer is a package that would include Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and one of the team’s other first-round picks. The C’s will be reluctant to go much higher than that, given their fear that George could leave in 2018 — Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times wrote on Thursday night that the Pacers forward is still telling friends he expects to be a Laker in 2018.

While George could just be a one-year rental, the Celtics have competition for him. According to Lowe, the Wizards would likely be willing to sign-and-trade Otto Porter and include a first-round pick. The Cavaliers would swap Kevin Love straight up, though that doesn’t interest Indiana much, per Lowe. If the Nuggets get involved again via three-way talks for George and Love, they could offer Gary Harris and a first-round pick, though NBA execs expect Harris to command upwards of $20MM annually on his next contract, which is due soon, says Lowe.

Here’s more from Lowe with the free agent period right around the corner:

  • Lowe views Hayward as less than a 50-50 bet to stay with the Jazz, with both the Celtics and Heat as legitimate suitors. The ESPN scribe adds that he wouldn’t be surprised if a mystery fourth team ends up getting a meeting with Hayward.
  • The market for Raptors big man Serge Ibaka and Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari is expected to be in about the $20MM-per-year range, sources tell Lowe.
  • The Sixers have told player agents that they plan on signing one-year contracts in free agency this summer to preserve future cap space. They may also use some of their current cap room to sign Robert Covington to a renegotiated extension, writes Lowe.
  • Lowe expects the Bucks to sign Tony Snell to a deal in the range of $10-12MM annually.
  • Despite drafting De’Aaron Fox, the Kings may still spend on a free agent point guard as a veteran mentor, particularly if they decide they want to chase a playoff spot right away, says Lowe.
  • The Grizzlies are “crossing their fingers” that the market for RFA power forward JaMychal Green isn’t as competitive as expected, according to Lowe.

Cavs Rumors: Trade Talks, Shumpert, Frye, Billups

Although an ESPN report classified pre-draft trade talks between the Cavaliers, Nuggets, and Pacers regarding Paul George and Kevin Love as “serious,” Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com spoke to a source who downplayed the rumor, suggesting a deal was never close and is unlikely to happen now.

Vardon suggests that the Pacers “obviously weren’t interested” in their end of the potential trade, which is corroborated by Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. According to Amico, the Cavaliers and Nuggets both wanted to get something done, but the Pacers were hesitant. Amico notes that the exact details of the proposed offer aren’t known, but Indiana likely would’ve received one player from Cleveland and at least two from Denver, including Kenneth Faried.

Here’s more from out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavs are having trouble finding teams willing to take on the contracts of Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye, according to Amico, who says Cleveland would like to move both players before training camp. One GM of a lottery team tells Amico that his club may be willing to trade for Frye later, but only after waiting to see how his roster takes shape in free agency. Amico adds that Shumpert may have been discussed in talks with the Pacers.
  • The Cavaliers have discussed a possible three-way trade with the Knicks, but Carmelo Anthony‘s stand-off with Phil Jackson appears to be complicating New York’s chances of getting anything major done, says Amico.
  • In a piece for Basketball Insiders, James Blancarte wonders if Love is being undervalued by NBA fans and observers. If that’s the case, NBA execs may be guilty of it too — Amico writes that teams have thus far been unwilling to offer a ton for Love since it’s widely known the Cavs are looking to move him.
  • The Cavs still have no resolution on their front office situation. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported on Sunday evening (via Twitter) that talks between the team and Chauncey Billups were ongoing, with no immediate resolution anticipated. Nearly two full days later, there have been no real updates. Cleveland reportedly offered Billups a five-year deal to become the team’s new president of basketball operations.

Nuggets Rumors: Lyles, Cancar, Bledsoe, Connelly

Forward Trey Lyles will earn playing time by his efforts on the defensive end, according to Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. The Nuggets acquired him in a draft-day trade with the Jazz that involved a swap of first-round picks. Lyles joins a crowded frontcourt but Denver needs a better defensive presence at the power forward spot. “I think personally, for me, being able to be versatile and guard different positions, keep guys in front of me and just compete is the main thing for me,” he told Kosmider. “This past summer I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on that. I’m continuing to focus on it through different training exercises to get better with it.” Lyles shot just 36% from the field last season while averaging 6.1 PPG during his second year in the league.

In other news involving the Nuggets:

  • Second-round selection Vlatko Cancar will remain in Europe for a couple of seasons before joining the Nuggets, Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports tweets. The Nuggets used the 49th overall pick in last week’s draft on Cancar, a 20-year-old small forward from Slovenia. He currently plays for Mega Leks in the Serbian League.
  • GM Tim Connelly nearly pulled off another draft-day swap but it fell apart at the last minute, Kosmider reports. A disappointed Connelly thought he had a done deal before the trading partner backed out, though Connelly wouldn’t provide any details (Twitter links). The Nuggets tried to trade for Jimmy Butler before the Bulls dealt him to the Timberwolves and also pursued a deal for Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. The Nuggets were also involved in three-way negotiations that would have brought Cavs power forward Kevin Love to Denver.
  • The front office led by Connelly hasn’t proven it can attract top free agents to Denver, Kiszla writes in the same story. The Nuggets are reportedly targeting Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap but Kiszla doubts that the team’s brass can close the deal on any of this year’s high-level free agents.

Stein’s Latest: George, Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets

News broke Sunday that the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Pacers had discussed a three-way deal that would have sent Paul George to the Cavs and Kevin Love to Denver ahead of the draft. As we wrote about earlie, one variation of the potential deal would have sent Kenneth Faried to Cleveland as well.

In an article published at ESPN shortly thereafter, Marc Stein – who sent the initial tweet Sunday night – goes into more details, sharing information about the pre-draft conversations that took place surrounding the Pacers forward.

Here are some highlights from Stein’s latest piece, co-written with Haynes:

  • While the conversations between the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Pacers didn’t amount to anything before the draft, Cleveland haven’t abandoned its pursuit of the two-way All-Star. The Cavs legitimately believe that they could convince George to abandon his dreams of playing for his hometown Lakers, something he is expected to pursue when he hits free agency in 2018.
  • In addition to Cleveland’s ongoing pursuit and the Celtics discussions that came to light on draft day, Stein and Haynes note that the Rockets and Spurs both aggressively pursued George deals before the draft as well.
  • The Nuggets are looking to upgrade at power forward and it’s the reason why Love was included in the possible three-team deal. Denver similarly intends to make plays for pending free agents Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap.
  • All of Faried, Wilson Chandler and Emmanuel Mudiay are said to be available. Big man Nikola Jokic and second-year guard Jamal Murray are supposedly untouchable.
  • The pair also confirm what we wrote about on Friday following a Joe Vardon column at Cleveland.com; the Cavs are expected to pursue Carmelo Anthony should he be bought out by the Knicks.

Cavs, Pacers, Nuggets Discussed George, Love

7:32pm: Nothing appears imminent, as the aforementioned Vardon tweet implied, but Stein and Haynes have published an article with more information about what went down and some of the underlying motives. We’ve recapped it here.

7:12pm: An article published by Haynes and Stein over at ESPN specifies that the Cavs, Nuggets and Pacers discussed Love and George leading up to last Thursday’s draft. The Nuggets, the article states, were brought in to supply Indiana with young assets.

Stein and Haynes note that while this particular discussion didn’t end in a deal, the Cavs won’t abandon their pursuit of the Pacers All-Star.

6:48pm: The clubs are said to have had discussions involving Denver on draft night, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com tweets. Vardon also adds that his source said it was “nothing serious”.

6:31pm: The Cavaliers, Pacers and Nuggets are in the midst of trade discussions involving Paul George and Kevin Love, Marc Stein of ESPN tweets. The three clubs have discussed a deal that would land George in Cleveland and Love in Denver.

Per Stein and ESPN’s Chris Haynes, the Cavs have “continued to pursue” George, something they were initially reported to be doing prior to the draft.

In one version of the potential deal, the Cavaliers could land forward Kenneth Faried, Haynes tweets.

News of the ongoing discussion comes after a week of speculation following George’s declaration that he would not be returning to the Pacers when he hits free agency next summer. When he informed Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard of his intentions, he revealed that he’d like to sign with his hometown Lakers in 2018.

Unless the Lakers make a move for him before then,  however, a number of other clubs – including the Cavaliers – will eagerly look to acquire him as a one-year rental, the Celtics being a notable example that has already made an aggressive push to land him.

Pluto’s Latest: George, Love, Ingram, Butler

The Pacers want to make a Paul George deal while they can still get value, but they aren’t interested in taking back Kevin Love from the Cavaliers, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Indiana is focused on getting young players and draft picks in return for its star forward, who has announced that he will opt out of his contract next offseason and has expressed a desire to return to his hometown of Los Angeles and play for the Lakers.

The Pacers proposed a deal to the Lakers involving Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft. However, Magic Johnson, L.A.’s president of basketball operations, doesn’t want to part with Ingram, who averaged 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 79 games as a rookie.

Pluto passes on several other tidbits in his latest column:

  • The Celtics could have as many as 10 first-rounders over the next three years and seem like a natural facilitator to take on Love and get George to Cleveland in a three-team trade. But an unidentified NBA executive tells Pluto the Celtics also want George and are more likely to deal with the Pacers directly.
  • The Bulls weren’t interested in Love either, which is why the Cavaliers had little chance of trading for Jimmy Butler. Chicago has gotten tired of being mediocre and is looking for young talent to start rebuilding around. However, Pluto says most of the league iwas “stunned” that the Bulls couldn’t get more than Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a swap of first-rounders in return for Butler. The Celtics reportedly offered a better package that included several future draft picks.
  • The Cavaliers are still waiting to hear if Chauncey Billups will accept their GM offer. Sources tell Pluto that Billups has been pursuing a GM job for more than a year, so it’s not clear why there’s a delay. Billups has never worked in an NBA front office, Pluto notes, so he would need to hire an experienced executive as an assistant. A top candidate is George David, a former assistant GM with the Pistons who has a background in scouting.

Bulls Becoming More Open To Jimmy Butler Trade

8:32pm: Butler’s preference to remain in Chicago has been made clear to the Bulls’ front office in addition to the Cavs, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today adds (via Twitter) that a trade between Chicago and Cleveland appears unlikely at this point. Still, Johnson tweets that the Bulls remain active in Butler talks.

7:28pm: The Cavaliers have been notified that Butler would like to stay with the Bulls and would be reluctant to commit to a long-term future in Cleveland, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. If the Cavs are able to complete a deal for Butler, I imagine they’d do so without a long-term commitment from the forward, but his desire to remain in Chicago is still a factor they’ll have to consider.

4:33pm: Just one day after Bulls sources suggested that the team likely wouldn’t move Jimmy Butler this week, the odds of a trade appear to be increasing. The Bulls have typically just been willing to listen on Butler inquiries to gauge his value, but they’re now making outgoing calls to teams about the star forward, according to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

According to Goodwill, the Celtics and Cavaliers are the frontrunners to land Butler if a deal gets done this week. The Suns have been “doing due diligence,” league sources tell Goodwill. The Nuggets were somewhat involved on Butler at the trade deadline, per CSN’s report, though it’s not clear if they’re jumping into the fray this time around. The Timberwolves were also mentioned on Monday as a possible trade partner for Chicago.

Butler has publicly expressed a desire to remain in Chicago, but Goodwill writes that the relationship between the All-NBA forward and head coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t been “fruitful,” which is one reason the Bulls appear to be legitimately considering moving Butler. Goodwill also suggests that the club may be reluctant to pay Butler a super-max Designated Veteran Extension if he becomes eligible for one next summer.

According to Goodwill, the Bulls were “rebuffed” on an offer to the Celtics for the No. 3 overall pick, straight up. I would expect Chicago to be seeking more than just that one pick in return for Butler, so if that’s true, it’s a surprise. Goodwill adds that bringing the Cavs to the negotiating table figures to increase the quality of the offers for Butler.

An earlier report indicated that the Cavs were attempting earlier this week to work out a three-team Butler trade that would see a third team receive Kevin Love, with a high lottery pick going from that club to the Bulls.

Although the Suns were believed to be the third team in that scenario, and John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 confirms (via Twitter) that the Cavs had interest in Phoenix’s No. 4 pick, Gambadoro says those discussions didn’t involve Love (Twitter link). While that may be true, it would be virtually impossible for the Cavs to pry away a top-five pick for the Bulls without using Love, so I have to think he’d be involved somehow.

Those Butler discussions with the Cavs took place before GM David Griffin departed from the franchise. However, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Griffin left behind the framework for possible deals involving Butler or Paul George, so owner Dan Gilbert and assistant GM Koby Altman – essentially the Cavs’ acting GM – could continue to work on those deals.

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