With Christmas nearly around the corner, a really common trend for fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers fans seems to be giving something Cavs related to their loved ones. Believe me, almost my entire family is getting something with either a Cavs logo or a player’s name or likeness on it for Christmas this year. (Hopefully, they do not read this before the big day!)
But one gift that all members of Wind and Gold Nation want this year for Christmas is to have either New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins or Oklahoma City Thunder star wing Paul George to join forces with LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Isaiah Thomas in yet another title run. Sorry to be a Grinch, Cavs fans, but those odds of landing either of these free agents (while technically possible and are likely being considered) have significantly decreased over the past couple months.
Before you start to write in the comments below or battle with on Twitter (@AmNotEvan) on this, hear me out. There exists a weird delusion amongst fans for quite some time that somehow, some way the Cavs would land either Cousins or George by trading away a combination of the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-round draft pick, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson, or even Isaiah Thomas. The desire to acquire another star on an already loaded Cavaliers team would be foolish for a multitude of reasons for the Thunder, the Pelicans, and most of all, the Cavs.
When Paul George requested to be traded away from the Indiana Pacers, he made it totally clear with the team that he would prefer to be traded to his hometown of Los Angeles, and it did not matter if he ended up with the Lakers or the Clippers. But Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard tried to do what was best for the team and fielded offers from the Boston Celtics and even had a three-team deal in place with the Cavs and the Denver Nuggets. If the three-team trade between the Pacers, Cavs, and Nuggets were to go down then the Cavs would have acquired George, the Nuggets would have gotten Kevin Love, and the Pacers would have received Gary Harris along with other assets. Pritchard got cold feet on the deal and backed out before he ultimately sent George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
While the Pacers so far look to have won the trade, with Oladipo torching the Cavs and ending a thirteen game win streak not too long ago:
The Thunder have struggled out of the gates after trying to assemble a Big Three of George, reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony. Due to the Thunder’s early struggles, many fans, especially the Cavs, have been chomping at the bit to try and pry away George from Loud City but if the Cavs were to seriously try and do this it would just end up disastrously for the Cavs.
As mentioned before, George has made it crystal clear in the past that he longs for the chance to play in his hometown of Los Angeles, most likely the Lakers, and as long as the Thunder continue to struggle the team will likely try to ship George to the Lakers more than anything. Compared to the Cavs the Lakers can offer a much more attractive trade package for George with a combination of Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Kyle Kuzma. This trade would be an awesome acquisition for the Thunder, as they get a quality starting power forward in Randle, a backup in Kuzma, and a proper backup point guard in Clarkson.
For the Cavs, they can only offer pieces like the oft-injured Iman Shumpert, the Brooklyn draft pick, and someone like rookie Cedi Osman or rookie Ante Zizic and if the Cavs were to give up something as coveted as the Nets pick for George, this would end up in a huge loss for the team. The fact that the Cavs can lose George, along with LeBron James, to the Lakers this upcoming offseason, is most definitely not worth the Nets pick due to the fact that it would hamstring the Cavs long-term goals of a complete and total rebuild.
Besides, the other problem, besides the fact that George would likely leave the Cavs due to the fact James’s future is not certain either, is there is no true proper fit for George in the Cavs starting unit. If the Cavs did acquire George he would either have to play at shooting guard or power forward, as LeBron James is the teams’ starting small forward and Kevin Love serves as either the starting power forward or center. This means the Cavs would have to send either JR Smith or Jae Crowder to the bench, and that could be a huge problem for the team. As of December 11, the Cavs have the fourth best bench in the league, behind the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, and Houston Rockets and have been the most enjoyable part of the Cavs this season, after having one of the worst benches in the league a year before. Things would be muddied by adding Smith, who has openly said he does not want to play off the bench for the Cavs, and Crowder, someone who is finally settling into his role as the teams’ bulldog defender in the starting unit. The unnecessary drama that adding George would create is definitely not worth it for a Cavaliers team that already has some fragile chemistry that will take some hits once Isaiah Thomas returns from injury.
One of the biggest things holding back the Cavs from acquiring Cousins from the Pellies is the fact that the Cavs cannot offer a proper package to entice them to trade away their recently-acquired big man. The combination of Cousins and Anthony Davis has been awesome for the Pelicans this season, including exploding for 52 points combined in an exciting win against the Philadelphia 76ers:
The Pelicans this season look to be headed to the playoffs, something the team has failed to do during their time with superstar forward Anthony Davis. The combination of Davis and Cousins, along with the other Kentucky Wildcats on the team, could seriously give the Golden State Warriors a run for their money in the first round.
Besides the fact that the Thunder or the Pelicans would never make a deal with the Cavs to send off one of their superstar players, the Cavs themselves would be faced with plenty of problems of their own if they acquired PG13 or Boogie. If they got either of them, they would have way too many cooks in an already crowded pot. They have to split up offensive shares between their own Big Three of Thomas, James, and Love and they also have to get players like Smith, Kyle Korver, Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green, and a multitude of others involved as well. Adding a player like George or Cousins, both who demand plenty of offensive touches of their own, would only add more chaos to the situation and the Cavs should avoid acquiring either of them.
While defending the paint has been a problem in the past for the Cavs, they should instead look to acquire players like DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, or Nerlens Noel, all who would integrate much easier compared to Cousins or George on offense and provide elite defense to an already stout defensive squad. The Cavs are once again the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference, after struggling out of the gates, and will only look better after Isaiah Thomas returns from his hip injury. They do not need to acquire someone like Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins to help improve an offense that will only become even more extreme once Thomas returns. Cavs fans should sit back and enjoy the show and then next season enjoy a top player coming out of college this season.