ESPN's Stephen A. Smith provided details during an appearance on Mike & Mike (h/t Stephen Douglas of The Big Lead). The New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns were the other teams involved in the discussions.
There are no indications the massive swap was ever close to getting finalized.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver might be happy the trade didn't get sent to his desk for approval. He's been fighting the perception the league has become an annual two-horse race between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors after three straight meetings in the Finals.
In May, Silver commented on the subject on Mike & Mike (h/t AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today) before the star-studded Warriors beat the Cavs for their second title in three years:
"It's just hard for me to fathom how there becomes this perception that at the moment there are only two teams that are truly competitive in this league. I just don't believe it. I think you're going to see these things have a way of working themselves out over time. Kawhi Leonard was the 15th pick in the draft, Isaiah Thomas was the 60th pick in the draft, Draymond Green was the 35th pick in the draft. And we have a great draft class coming up next year."
Adding Anthony and George to a Cleveland roster that features LeBron James and Kyrie Irving would have given the Cavaliers a foursome capable of contending with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
It would have also made the 82-game regular season and the first three playoff rounds even more irrelevant, which makes those contests a tougher sell to fans and advertisers.
Love's massive deal may have saved the NBA from a difficult internal debate. The 28-year-old power forward is under contract through the 2019-20 campaign with a cap hit that steadily rises to $25.6 million in the final year of the pact.
That said, it wouldn't be a shock if Anthony or George lands with the Cavaliers next season while the other 28 teams are left to wonder when the top-heavy arms race will finally end.