How Victor Oladipo, Paul George, and David Griffin altered Pacers and the NBA landscape

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 03: Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dribbles while guarded by Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics during a game at TD Garden on February 3, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 03: Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dribbles while guarded by Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics during a game at TD Garden on February 3, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Had the Cleveland Cavaliers kept then-general manager David Griffin around, the Indiana Pacers might have ended up with something other Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

The NBA is a relatively enclosed ecosystem. With limited talent divided by 30 teams, a move by the Indiana Pacers can end up having ripple effects across the NBA. Or, if the Cleveland Cavaliers had kept David Griffin around, they might have ended up with Paul George.

And when that didn’t happen, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis ended up with the Indiana Pacers.

Let’s look back two summers ago, shall we?

According to The Athletic’s Joe Vardon (subscription required), Cleveland was close to making a deal that brought in George and sent Kyrie Irving out.

Vardon says the framework was there between Indiana, Cleveland, and a mystery third team, but that’s when things started to break down.

Griffin wanted to talk to Irving about the possible trade, but once Cleveland’s team owner, Dan Gilbert, left Griffin as a lame duck, Irving’s agent and representatives wouldn’t meet. Griffin left the team on June 19, three days before the NBA draft. The Pacers eventually traded PG in July.

A missed opportunity for Cleveland, and another what if for the Pacers.

What exactly would that trade have been? We know at one point Indiana offered George for Irving in a disgruntled star-for-star swap. We know Indiana possibly turned down draft picks from the Portland Trail Blazers and then backed out of a deal with Cleveland and the Denver Nuggets that would have sent George to the Cavaliers.

But Vardon didn’t identify the third team, so we are left to speculate which team and players were involved.

The Pacers and the Butterfly Effect

While we don’t know for sure what picks or players were part of the deal, it’s interesting to think what would have happened to the rest of the NBA.

The Boston Celtics wouldn’t have Kyrie, so who would they have paired with Gordon Hayward?

Would the Pacers still be languishing in the midst of a rebuild?

Perhaps the Pacers would have been in tank-mode while Paul George and LeBron James took on the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. That possible Cavaliers team certainly would have put up a better fight than the Clevland team that lost to the Warriors last season.

Would Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis stayed with the Oklahoma City Thunder or who might they have traded them for instead?

Who would the Pacers had drafted if they got picks instead of those now beloved players?

dark. Next. The Pacers couldn’t have tanked even if they wanted to

The NBA might look very different had some sort of George to Cleveland trade went through, though it certainly feels like the Warriors would still be reigning champions either way.