Hawks’ roster teardown begins by trading Kyle Korver to Cavaliers

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Korver’s time in Atlanta, a 332-game barrage of 818 3-pointers, has come to an end.

The Atlanta Hawks traded the 35-year-old guard to the Cleveland Cavaliers for 36-year-old forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., veteran point guard Mo Williams and a 2019 first-round pick. The draft pick is top-10 protected and the Hawks have the option to move it to 2020.

“We are incredibly grateful to Kyle for his contributions to the Hawks over the last five years,” head coach and president of basketball operations Mike Budenholzer said in a statement. “He is a professional in every sense of the word and played a significant part in establishing our culture and in the success this franchise has seen. This is a difficult decision, but one we felt was in the best interest of the organization.”

In addition, the Hawks are reportedly listening to multiple offers for their best player, All-Star forward Paul Millsap.

Korver and Millsap are both set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end.

“Definitely mixed emotions, you know? There’s a lot of hard ties to Atlanta for a lot of reasons. … It’s hard to leave that behind,” Korver said of the news after Thursday’s win over New Orleans. Korver did not play in the game. “Obviously it’s a great opportunity for me to go to Cleveland. So I’m very excited about that part. But there’s a lot of relationships that I care a lot about here that I’m gonna miss.”

Atlanta waived backup forward Ryan Kelly to make room for both Dunleavy and Williams on the 15-man roster. Williams, who has not played this season, will not factor into Atlanta’s future plans, while the Hawks could also continue to seek out a trade partner for Dunleavy.

The trade of Korver signals another turn of the page for the Hawks franchise. After losing All-Star center Al Horford in free agency in the offseason, the team attempted to solidify their place in the Eastern Conference pecking order by signing big man Dwight Howard and re-signing wing Kent Bazemore, but it entered Thursday night’s action just three games above .500 despite a recent surge. By trading Korver — and presumably Millsap, among other potential options — the Hawks avoid losing more valuable pieces in free agency with nothing to show for their trouble. The starting five from the franchise’s 60-win team in 2015 is now on five different NBA rosters.

Korver served as a cornerstone for Budenholzer’s pace-and-space system, attracting constant attention while shooting over 45 percent from the outside over his Hawks career. He averaged 10.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game over that span.

Korver ranks eighth in NBA history with 1,952 career 3-pointers made.

Originally acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, Korver fills a void for Cleveland, which is playing without J.R. Smith for an extended period of time due to a thumb injury, and sends a strong message to the rest of the league.

In Dunleavy, the Hawks receive shooting in return.

The 6-foot-9 journeyman is a 40 percent shooter over the past five seasons. He is signed through the 2017-18 season at an affordable rate — owed the remainder of his $4.8 million salary this season and $5.2 million next year. However, the Hawks could move Dunleavy before their presumptive trading spree is over.

The Hawks now own the Minnesota Timberwolves’ lottery-protected 2018 first-round pick and the reigning world champion Cavaliers’ 2019 first-round selection.

With Korver out of the picture, Tim Hardaway Jr. and 2016 first-round draft picks Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry will play bigger roles moving forward in Atlanta.