The OKC Big 3 might be the most entertaining storyline of the summer, and the Cleveland Cavaliers need to be ready to jump on any opportunity.
Both the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers have had rather disappointing postseasons. With Oklahoma already eliminated, their Big 3 (Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony) failed this season, and the tensions, at least with Melo, seem to be at an all-time high.
Melo had a horrific postseason, scoring just 11.8 points per game on less than 40% from the field. His comments on taking a bench spot next season have already sparked tension in Oklahoma City, and it might prove to be the start of the end for their Big 3.
In addition to Melo not playing well, all-star Paul George didn’t play up to par in the postseason, one reason the Thunder were eliminated in six games at the hand of an all-star-less Jazz. George did average 24.7 points per game which was actually his lowest postseason average in the last three postseasons. George scored, but he did it rather ineffectively, making just 40.8% of his shots.
That said, Oklahoma City is the city of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is under contract until the 2022-2023 season where he has a player option for $46 million. Needless to say, Westbrook isn’t going anywhere, so George is really the only valuable member of the big three in the eyes of any other NBA team.
As for Cleveland, the Cavaliers will have both the assets and motive to trade for Paul George this offseason. If the Cavaliers lose in Game 7 against the Pacers or make to the Finals, they will be looking to help LeBron James out, assuming he lets them know his free agency decision before the NBA Draft.
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Their motive comes from wanting to keep LeBron James happy while also wanting to plan for the future. George, who is 27-years-old, still has about five years left in his prime and could certainly learn quite a bit playing alongside the league’s greatest player of all time. Cleveland would be a good fit for George as he could feed off James who has turned into a phenomenal passer.
The main assets that Cleveland could put on the table are the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first-round pick, which is projected to be between 5-10, and a younger player like Ante Zizic or Cedi Osman. That’s on top of Cleveland assuming that George would be more than a one-year rental.
Rumors like this haven’t happened yet, but there were rumors about Oklahoma City trading George earlier in the year when their offensive struggles were obvious, but they obviously didn’t.
With so much talent on their roster, you can’t blame their front office for giving the team a chance to mesh and go through at least one full season.
Now, as Oklahoma City prepares for the offseason, they’ll have several routes to take. George, who has a player option, could opt in for one more season and give it another go. He could take his talent to his hometown and play in Los Angeles for a young and hungry Lakers team, or he could request a trade to Cleveland and immediately compete for a ring.
Ever since OKC’s tumultuous playoff collapse, it seems obvious that the Thunder Big 3 won’t be competing for an NBA championship anytime soon. That said, it might be the right decision for OKC to trade for Cleveland’s top pick and allow Russ to groom his successor.
The ball’s in OKC court, and their decision could make for one of the most intriguing offseasons in NBA history.
Will it happen? Probably not. But, is it a real possibility? Definitely.