CLEVELAND (AP) The defending NBA champions just got a whole lot tougher to stop.
Two days after agreeing to the deal, the Cleveland Cavaliers completed a trade with Atlanta for Kyle Korver, one of the league’s best 3-point shooters, who will be able to spot up on the perimeter and wait for LeBron James to pass him the ball.
The Cavs sent forward Mike Dunleavy, guard Mo Williams, cash and a protected future first-round draft pick to the Hawks for Korver, a 14-year veteran whose ability to come off screens and deep range challenges defenses.
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”It adds another dynamic piece to our team,” James said. ”Hell of a sharp shooter and just a great guy. Great professional, as you’ve seen over his career. A guy that’s played at a high level for a long time, has championship aspirations. And, he has another rocket launcher.”
The trade was agreed upon Thursday and completed Saturday.
”We are extremely pleased to be able to add a player and person the caliber of Kyle Korver to our Cavs family,” general manager David Griffin said. ”Among the most prolific and dynamic 3-point shooters in NBA history, a selfless, and team first competitor, Kyle brings all of the elements of Cavs DNA that we covet on and off the floor.”
The 35-year-old Korver is expected to help Cleveland offset the loss of J.R. Smith, who will be out until April after suffering a complex thumb fracture and undergoing surgery. The 6-foot-7 Korver has made 43 percent of his 3-pointers during his career and also has plenty of postseason experience.
With James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Korver on the floor, defenses will have to decide who to guard. If Korver got open looks at the basket with Atlanta, he’ll have even more opportunities with the Cavs.
”I could only imagine him coming off those pin downs and whether he’s open or not, we’re telling him to shoot it,” Irving said after Friday’s win at Brooklyn. ”Every shooter that comes here, we tell them Bron’s statement: `If a guy’s not in your numbers, then you’re open.’ So I know he’ll pretty much enjoy that. We’re looking forward to getting to know who he is as a person and a teammate, and we’re going to integrate the best way we know how.”
While Korver enjoyed his time with Atlanta and will miss those friendships, he’s joining the team that eliminated him from the playoffs the past two seasons. Cleveland has swept Atlanta in each of the past two postseasons.
Korver has 72 hours to report to the Cavs and will still need to undergo a physical. It’s possible he could join them on Sunday in Phoenix, the first of five games out West for the Cavs, whose trip will conclude with a Jan. 16 matchup at Golden State.
Coach Tyronn Lue said he intends to bring Korver off the bench.
Griffin’s ability to pull off the trade helped the Cavs on a few fronts. It gave them more firepower and he was able to open up a roster spot by dealing Dunleavy, who was a disappointment in his first season for Cleveland, and Williams, who hasn’t played after saying he was retiring. By dumping him on Atlanta, Cleveland is also ridding itself of the rest of Williams’ $2.1 million salary and avoiding luxury tax issues.
The Cavs may not be done dealing, either. Griffin wants to add a veteran backup point guard, a spot Cleveland has needed to address since electing not to re-sign Matthew Dellavedova in free agency last summer. Rookie Kay Felder has improved but Cleveland needs more at the position.
”That’s the next step,” James said Friday in New York. ”You look at our league, most teams have three point guards. We only have two with Ky (Irving) and our rook in Kay. I think just having that security blanket. Every NFL team has three quarterbacks. We’ll see what happens, but, we’re happy with our team right now.”
Korver’s departure might not be the last for the Hawks, who aren’t the same team that won 60 games before losing to the Cavs in the 2015 Eastern Conference finals. Forward Paul Millsap’s name has been linked to trade speculation for weeks.