Although it would have been much better if he were traded during the offseason instead of in late November, the Cleveland Cavaliers have sent Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz for a 2020 second round pick, 2021 second round pick (via the Wizards), and Alec Burks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday night.
Before signing his three-year, $22.6 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to the 2017-18 season, he and the front office supposedly verbally agreed that if LeBron James were to leave and the Cavs would tank, the team would trade the veteran during the offseason, that way his family wouldn’t have to pack up and move midseason.
Fast forward to this past offseason. LeBron left and when Korver met with the front office, general manager Koby Altman and company told the sharpshooter that they were not going to tank and instead be prepared to make a run at a spot in the postseason. When they (surprisingly) re-signed Kevin Love, they said the same thing.
Just one month into the season, it’s been clear that the Cavs are not a playoff team or even fighting for a spot in the postseason. Whether it’s due to injuries or just being out-talented, the wine and gold seem to be one of the worst teams in the league. They may not necessarily be tanking (at least yet), but they clearly aren’t the team they thought they might be in the first season post-LeBron.
One of the worst teams in the NBA, instead of focusing on playing the veterans such as JR Smith and Kyle Korver, the Cavs have tried to go with their youth instead. Whether it’s Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, or other young players, that group has gotten much more of an opportunity to produce than veterans not named Tristan Thompson. It’s one of the main reasons Smith is no longer with the team.
Korver is averaging just 6.8 points per game in 15.7 minutes a night, both of which are his fewest since his rookie season in 2003-04. While still shooting 46.3 percent from beyond the arc, the 37-year-old was also shooting the least amount of shots (4.8 field goals per game) since his rookie season as well. The 37-year-old is making $7.56 million this season and is set to make $7.5 million next season. The key part here is that just $3.44 million is guaranteed in 2019-20 and he will only be paid the full amount if not waived by July 7.
Alec Burks, on the other hand, is an expiring contract, making just under $11.3 million this season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. In his eighth season in Utah, the 27-year-old is averaging 8.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while knocking down 41.2 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from beyond the arc in just 15.8 minutes a night (17 games).
Korver returns to Utah, where he spent three seasons with the Jazz from 2007-2010, including making a career-best 53.6 percent of his three-pointers in 2009-10, which continues to be the best percentage in a single season in NBA history. While he didn’t want to move his family during the season, he and his wife met in Utah and the family is familiar with the area, so if anything, at least they will move to a place that they not only are familiar with but like as well.
In asset-acquisition mode, only acquiring two second-round picks and a player for Korver doesn’t seem like much, but it’s actually a solid return for the Cavs. Instead of taking on a bad contract that will be with the team beyond this season, Cleveland only received an expiring contract, freeing up some space beginning this summer. Also, that Wizards second rounder in 2021 may only be a second-round pick, but with the way things are trending in the nation’s capital, that might be early in the second round.
While losing a veteran leader like Korver could potentially hurt the young players on the Cavs a bit, it was the right move to make. The sharpshooter helped Osman and others with their shot (and free throws) during his time in Cleveland, but with his career coming to an end sooner rather than later, he wanted to play for a contender. With Utah currently 9-12 and expected to make a run at a playoff spot out West, he not only gets to do that, but his family gets to return to a place that they are familiar with, all while the Cavs received a solid return in the trade as well.
It’s too bad the Cavs couldn’t follow through and trade Korver during the offseason as he had asked, but this seems like a solid consolation prize for both he and the team, especially with what they acquired from the Jazz.