Report: Cavaliers-Pacers-Nuggets Paul George trade fell apart over pick protection

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The Cavaliers can’t get over the Pacers trading Paul George to the Thunder for just Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Cleveland – and maybe Denver – seem to believe Indiana backed out of a three-team deal first.

That trade would have sent George to the Cavaliers, Kevin Love to the Nuggets and Gary Harris to the Pacers.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Here’s where the deal fell apart, league sources said: Indiana wanted no protections on a future Cavaliers first-round pick. Cleveland balked, insisting the pick have lottery protection

Here, it doesn’t sound as if there were an agreement for Indiana to back out of. Cleveland and Denver might describe the negotiation differently.

Either way, the Cavs wisely insisted on protections. The earliest first-round pick they could convey is in 2021. LeBron James and George could walk after this season, and Kyrie Irving already wants out. Cleveland’s future picks could land quite high in the draft.

We don’t necessarily know the entire framework of this trade, but it sure seems the Pacers – even with a lottery-protected first-rounder – would have fared better than they did in the Oklahoma City deal. Still, if the Cavaliers wouldn’t meet Indiana’s demands, they’re culpable for George getting away.