Could the Jazz acquire Kevin Love in a three-team trade?
As soon as the Golden State Warriors displayed their dominance and toppled the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, the first thing fans did was begin to speculate on who the Cavs could bring in to legitimately challenge the NBA’s top squad. Among other names, one of the first that came up was Paul George.
Despite never actually beating LeBron James in a playoff series, Paul George-led teams have come closer than any other Eastern Conference squad since James joined the Heat in 2010. George is an excellent two-way player, a fierce competitor and seems to reach a new level in the postseason. Without a doubt, he’d be an incredible weapon for the Cavs as they look to outduel Golden State. However, at the time his addition didn’t really seem realistic whatsoever.
Almost immediately after the news broke about Paul George’s desire to leave Indiana for the Lakers in 2018, the next report to surface, per The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, was that the Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the teams that the Pacers were in trade contact with for the upcoming season.
While people who actually want to see a Cavs-Warriors rematch in the Finals for a fourth straight year (I’ll be honest, I’m not one of those people) are giddy at the prospect of PG joining their ranks, it’s going to be tougher than one might think. Outside of Kevin Love, the Cavs don’t have many great trade pieces and don’t have any first-round picks this season. Love wouldn’t be an awful consolation prize for the Pacers, but likely isn’t exactly what Indy is looking for.
Not to mention, the Pacers may be leery of helping out a LeBron James-led team given that his dominance has been their undoing for several years. Then again, if they’re about to go through a major rebuild anyway, they may very well not care.
For these intents and purposes, though, let’s assume an agreement is reached and Paul George is traded to the Cavs. This could have an effect on the Jazz in two ways.
First of all, adding a star of George’s caliber to the team that’s the best in the Eastern Conference by a long-shot certainly dampens the appeal of a team like the Boston Celtics who are set to be a major Gordon Hayward suitor this offseason. Even if the Celtics add Hayward and a guy such as perhaps Jimmy Butler, I still don’t know if that is super enough of a team to beat the Cavs new powerhouse squad with Paul George in their ranks.
With that being the case, perhaps Gordon decides instead that it’s better to stay with the Jazz who have a bright future than go to the East and join Boston only to have to fight through LeBron, George and Kyrie Irving to get to the Finals.
The other (and more substantial) reason that the George-to-Cleveland trade could impact the Jazz is that, as I mentioned before, Cleveland doesn’t necessarily have the assets to woo Indy, so it’s possible that a third team would be necessary. If such is the case, then some have speculated that the Jazz could be that third team and that as participants in the trade, they would end up with Kevin Love.
The most speculated trade offer resembles that depicted in the tweet below:
There’s certainly an argument to be made that this is a win-win for all parties (well, as “win” as the Pacers can get right now). The Cavs get their new star, the Pacers get a starter in Favors and their pick(s) as well as a budding player in Dante Exum, while the Jazz get an impact player in Kevin Love whose stretch-four capabilities should work well in Quin Snyder’s system, and though he isn’t the defender Favors is, he certainly brings other skills to the table.
Personally, I’d rather give up Rodney Hood than Dante Exum and in fact I think the Pacers may be more intrigued by that. Even then, though, I’m not sure Kevin Love is quite the answer for the Jazz. He’s a solid player and I think he’d perform even better with the Jazz than he has with Cleveland, but I worry about his somewhat disappointing postseason performances as well as his lackluster defense.
Still, if the Jazz are looking to make a splash and Dennis Lindsey and Co. feel like this is a good ploy to better the team and convince Hayward to stay, then I wouldn’t be opposed to it in the slightest. Again, I feel like the biggest obstacles here would be whether or not Indiana feels they’re getting what they hope to get for PG, but with how little leverage they have, they may be hard-pressed to get much more.