By: Alex Marcheschi
Last week I wrote about how trading Kevin Love shouldn’t be the Cavs’ answer to competing with the Warriors. I still feel that way, but when I wrote that blog, I didn’t consider one gigantic piece of information: the Cavs may not be thinking about the future of the franchise, they may be being held hostage by LeBron. Which is completely understandable, and I honestly should have considered that before writing the blog last week. I also thought the George trade rumors were just dumb internet whispers, but apparently they’re very real.
That’s on me, I apologize.
But back to the Cavs being held hostage, in all likelihood, there was a behind-closed-doors handshake between LeBron and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert when The King decided to return to The Land. Gilbert infamously trashed LeBron in the form of a comic sans hate letter when he left for Miami, and as a result, Gilbert backed himself into a corner with the King. Once you write something like this about a man who made your franchise relevant again…
You pretty much forfeit any hope of being respected by said man. So, when LeBron told Gilbert he would come back, he likely gave Gilbert some terms he had to abide by. There’s a strong chance the Cavs have to do whatever LeBron tells them to do, as evidenced by the firing of David Blatt, hiring of Ty Lue and the Tristan contract, among other things. In a recently published YouTube video of LeBron chilling in a barbershop, the King addressed the letter in blunt fashion, saying:
Our owner at the time, when I left decided to put out this f*cking article that we all know about where he completely bashed me and like disrespected not only me as an individual but disrespected my name.
And my name is not just me personally, it’s my wife. My kids. My grandfather, you know what I’m saying? My mother. So many more people.
Some people were on the fence. My wife, my momma and my wife was like ‘f*ck that. I ain’t with that. My mom was definitely like ‘f*ck that. We ain’t going back.’
For me it was more I had to finally just be like ‘you know what mom it ain’t even really about that. Me going back is more of this. It’s more of a bigger picture. IT’s more of an all these kids. All these people that need inspiration. That need a way out. And I’m that way out.
So, what does this have to do with the Paul George trade rumors?
Well, the general consensus is that the Cavs would have to trade Kevin Love in order to land George. Love is signed through the 2020 season, and George will be a free agent after next season. So, if they make the trade, the Cavs will be trading three more seasons of Love for one season of George. This is significant because Paul George has been very outspoken about signing his next deal with the Lakers:
In all likelihood, the Cavs would be getting George for one more run at the Warriors and then he would bounce for LA. I can see how some Cavs fans would give up three more years of Love for one year of PG, because as good as Love is, it’s a fact that George matches up better against the Warriors. But, there’s a much larger consequence involved here. If the Cavs do end up trading Love for George, it likely means LeBron will also be leaving with George after next season. Why?
LeBron can opt out of his deal after next season, and he too has expressed interest in playing in LA.
And LeBron also owns a home in LA. So, when you connect the dots, if the Cavs trade Love for PG, they’re essentially mortgaging their future for one legitimate shot at GSW. The roster would be depleted after next season and George doesn’t want to be there long term. LeBron knows this, and we all know he wouldn’t stand for having a sub-par roster, so it basically means if they deal Love for PG, we’re looking at next season being LBJ’s last in Cleveland.
Cleveland doesn’t have a first round pick until 2021 and if they swap Love for George and then lose both George and LBJ after next season, we’ll be looking at a Cavs squad that will sadly resemble the pre-LeBron, Kyrie led Cavs.
So, for Cavs fans, it basically boils down to this: Gilbert backed himself into a corner by shitting on LeBron in that letter, and as a result, LeBron can hold the franchise hostage. If the Love for George trade goes through, Cavs fans will have one more year of extremely exciting, historically great basketball before facing a Brooklyn Nets-esque drought.
However, if LeBron is going to leave for LA after next year regardless (like many NBA reporters believe he will), trading Love may sadly be the right move. Love is an all-NBA talent and a dominant force, but George simply matches up better against the Warriors. If we see this deal go through, Cavs fans will have one more year of absolutely legendary basketball, followed by a potential streak of meaningless seasons. Are two potential rings worth it? Well, that’s for you to decide.
p.s. – The giant wildcard in this whole ordeal is this: Cavs GM David Griffin is only under contract for about two more weeks. Crazy times.