The four-time All-Star informed the Pacers earlier this month he will not consider returning to the franchise when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
"It couldn't have come at a worse time," president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard told reporters Thursday. "If we would have known this a few months ago, I think we could have been more prepared. Becoming public was a big issue. We want our players to want to be here; that's important. It really is. When Paul said he didn't, that's a gut punch."
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com reported the three-way swap discussed Thursday was "nothing serious" and "very unlikely" to come to fruition.
The Cavaliers may be exploring ways to make their core more formidable, but they're likely stuck with the LeBron James-Kyrie Irving-Kevin Love trio. Love is still a high-level player who makes everything they do easier offensively. They're not going to get equal value if they trade him for multiple players, and it would not make sense for the Pacers to agree to a George-Love-centric swap.
The Nuggets have some roster clutter they need to reconfigure, but they have time. They stumbled on a budding star in Nikola Jokic, love Jamal Murray's development as a long-term piece and also have a developing stretch big in Juan Hernangomez. Adding a power forward to pair next to Jokic should be an offseason priority, just not one that includes giving up one of their cornerstone young pieces.
The most obvious George destination remains Boston, and the Pacers will likely wait deep into July after failing to get things done on draft night. The Celtics have a perfect combination of picks and talent, and they could go all-in on winning now if they can sign Gordon Hayward in free agency.
Any Cleveland path feels too convoluted.