The Cleveland Cavaliers are taking a break from being the proverbial boogeyman in the Los Angeles Lakes pursuit of Indiana Pacers star Paul George to go after a different All-Star wing who hasn’t demanded his team trade him (yet).
According to the esteemed Marc Stein of ESPN, the Cavaliers “have been working today on assembling multi-team trade scenarios to try to acquire Chicago's Jimmy Butler.”
Now before you laugh that off with a “how in the hell could they possibly put together the best trade for Jimmy Butler?”, Stein reports that the reason the Cavaliers are looking at a multi-team trade is “to provide the assets Chicago would surely demand.”
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Phoenix Suns might be the third team.
The Cavaliers could potentially get those assets from the Suns, or another team interested in Kevin Love, but given that he is the most likely centerpiece in any theoretical Cavaliers deal for Paul George, that would seem to put Cleveland in a quandary.
It’s unlikely that the Cavaliers can acquire both superstar wings given their limited assets, so the fact that they’re pursuing Butler could potentially knock them out of the talks for George.
So I know that seven paragraphs down (if you’ve made it this far), you’re asking “why does that matter for the Lakers?”
Well, if the Cavaliers do get deep into talks for Butler and this isn’t just an attempt to create leverage with the Pacers, then it would once again torpedo the leverage Indiana has attempted to build against the Lakers, who reportedly don’t want to even get involved in talks for George unless a deal gets close and don’t want to trade any of their young core for him.
Got all that? Good.
This is peak NBA summertime rumor-mill season stuff, with more smoke than a forest fire. Once it clears we’ll begin to see what was real and what wasn’t, but until then the Cavaliers’ pursuit of George and the way it affects the Lakers’ talks with the Pacers is worth keeping an eye on.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our latest episode on the George talks below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.