Nov 12, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver (26) is congratulated by fans after a win over the Philadelphia 76ers at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 117-96. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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Kyle Korver has officially been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers
The proposed trade between the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers, in which the defending champs receive Kyle Korver for Mike Dunleavy Jr. and a 2019 first-round pick is now official.
Korver, who is shooting 40.9 percent from three this season is 8th all-time in career three-point field goals made and, not strictly confined to shooting from behind the arc, is one of the premier shooters in the league when coming off-screens and on catch-and-shoot attempts. Playing beside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving should give Korver plenty of opportunities to launch a shot from three with space.
Apr 2, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shakes hands with Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) in the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Open Roster Spot
In the trade, the Cavs will be sending Mo Williams to the Hawks. Williams, who was once one of James’ good friends but is now virtually an enemy of the state as far as the Cleveland Cavaliers organization is concerned, may not have been willing to play point guard for the Cavs but with this trade the team now has a roster spot to get one.
That point guard could come to the team via trade or, now with an open roster spot, by way of free agency. Here’s a list of the top three trade targets for the Cavs, while here’s a list of three point guards who may be signed in free agency. No matter who the Cavs acquire at point guard, expect that player to be a veteran who can score for himself while also keeping the shooters of the second unit involved.
I think just having that secure blanket [is important]. Every NFL team has three quarterbacks. Having that secure blanket in case of a [situation like the Raiders losing] Derek Carr. We’ll see what happens, but we’re happy with our team right now.
While not every team in the NFL has three quarterbacks, the message is clear. The Cavs want a veteran behind Irving.
Jun 2, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) celebrates with forward Kevin Love (0) during the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors in game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The First-Round Draft Picks Were Protected For A Reason
The 2019 first-round pick is top-10 protected until the 2021 season, after which the Hawks will receive two second-round picks in both 2021 and 2022 if they have yet to receive their first-round pick from the Cavs.
The protections on the 1st Rd pick CLE sent to ATL are: top 10 in '19, top 10 in '20, then it converts to two 2nd Rd picks in '21 and '22
It’s highly unlikely that the Cavs will bad enough to be selecting in the top-10 in 2019 and 2020 but it’s possible as James will be 35 in 2019. The dominance he’s continued to display at 32 is impressive and it’s nearly impossible to picture the King slowing down, you don’t bet against the King. But James will undoubtedly by three years old, need that many more games to rest and, if you believe that he wants to team up with Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, it may happen after James’ current contract expires in 2019.
In that sense, protecting the picks until the 2021 season makes sense, especially considering the lack of success Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have had without James on the roster. The duo currently has a 4-18 record without James on the court. Over the course of an 82-game season, that would amount to an 18-win team, and what would easily be one of the worst in the NBA.
It’s hard to picture the Cavs only winning both 18 games with both Irving and Love playing to the best of their capabilities. However, neither will be an elite defender or athlete or the most cerebral passer in the league and they often needs James’ ability to isolate and be efficient for the team to succeed. It’s going to be hard to replace James with anybody and while the Cavs could be a 40-win team if the find a do-it-all forward to replace James in the future, they could also opt to let a disappointing season play out so that they receive a top-10 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Feb 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin talks with the media before the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Cavaliers Still Have A Few Assets Left
Armed with a 2018 first-round draft pick, the draft rights to Cedi Osman, Jordan McRae, Chris Andersen (out for the season), and a $9.6 million traded player exception, the Cavs are in the position of being able to give a team significant cap relief and future assets as they make one more trade.
What’s interesting, as far as the Cleveland Cavaliers are concerned, is that while a veteran point guard is certainly necessary there are three free agent point guards the Cavs have familiarity with. Jarrett Jack, Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers are all returning from injuries in the coming weeks. All three are veterans who have shown the ability to make plays for themselves and others throughout their careers and would be good fits for the Cavs locker room.
A point guard like Rajon Rondo could become available if he has a contract buyout as well, with no team likely trading real assets to match his $14 million salary. Rondo, who is a mercurial point guard, has had some success from three-point range this season and has remained one of the best floor generals in the NBA. Handing Rondo the reins in the second unit could appease Rondo, for now. It’s unlikely he’d be content as a backup point guard for the long run but for one postseason stretch in which he could boost his value while on the Cavs, he may be a better locker room presence than many believe he could be.
The team may also trade for a rim-protector, as it’s fairly obvious that the Cavs do need one. The team would likely prefer a mobile and versatile big and to that point there may be some lesser-known players they’d have interest in, like the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Joffrey Lauvergne.
The Cavs could also target a traditional center like the Sacramento Kings Kosta Koufos via trade or the Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler with a buyout, though neither are likely to be pried away from their current teams. Call-up options, like the Canton Charge’s Eric Moreland could be an option for the Cavs, though a roster spot would need to be opened up first.
Korver, an intelligent veteran who has remained as one of the league’s premier marksman despite a slight dip in his defensive production at 35-years-old, reminds me of another veteran sniper who teamed up with James late in his career, Ray Allen.
That’s not just because Allen was called “Jesus Shuttlesworth” and Korver has been called “Threezus” over his NBA career. It’s because both players were masterful and diligent in running through screen after screen in an attempt to get a shot off. Both players have a shooting form so consistent it’s a wonder if the consistency in their form is a form of obsessive compulsion to rain threes from deep all game.
Korver, like Allen, will be a tremendously valuable player for the Cavs while coming off the bench. He, Iman Shumpert, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye are a solid second unit and with a solid backup point guard, the Cavs could have one of the best second units in the NBA. That’s a far cry from a bench unit that currently ranks 27th in the league in points per game.
Korver, like Allen, will also be a great player for the team because of both his focus on team defense and his intangible characteristics. Korver, a family man who has been a model citizen in the league, will be a quiet and possibly understated force for the Cavs.