The Oklahoma City Thunder went from lower-seeded playoff team to legitimate Western Conference contender in as little as a month.
But a confession by Carmelo Anthony on ESPN’s SiriusXM Radio reveals that it could have been a very different story.
According to Anthony, both he and Paul George expected to be traded on draft night to join LeBron in Cleveland:
“Me and PG have a very close friendship. Actually, it was funny because me and PG was supposed to be in Cleveland on draft night. we were communicating about that. The deal was actually done and it got called off on draft night, so me and PG stayed connected throughout the course of the season.”
While Carmelo’s words may be frustrating to Cavs fans, it shouldn’t come as a huge shock to those who know how active Cleveland has been in the trade markets. Even before Kyrie’s trade request, there was a growing sense around the league that the Cavaliers needed to beef up their roster a bit if they wanted to compete with the Warriors.
Despite the fact that the team lost out on PG and Melo, they were still able to acquire some key free agents this summer. But, obviously, there has to be a feeling of regret in that Cleveland front office, knowing the team could have had both players in their locker room.
Nobody is quite sure why the deal was, as Melo says, “called off.” Was it cold-feet by the Celtics or Pacers? Was it some internal struggle within the Cavs’ front-office?
Either way, it’s pretty ironic that the Cavs helped develop the Melo/PG relationship. On the Thunder, they can reestablish a winning culture in OKC, and help bring the organization the prize it has so patiently waited for.