A secret door. An underground tunnel. A rocket ready to launch into space. Can we please give Kyle Korver an escape route out of Cleveland?
The Cavaliers shooting guard is stuck on a 1-8 team with no clear roles for the veterans on the roster. Even worse, Korver should have been gone by now.
The Cavs reportedly agreed to trade or buy out Korver if LeBron James left in free agency. James decided to sign with the Lakers, but Cleveland’s front office didn’t want to start a rebuild and felt Korver could help the Cavs win.
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Well, so much for that plan. The Cavs own the worst record in the NBA and are tied with the basement-dwelling Suns for the league’s worst net rating (minus-11.8). Korver is averaging only 15.4 minutes per game, the second-lowest mark of his career.
Owner Dan Gilbert might not want to admit it, but this franchise needs to clear out any holdovers from the LeBron ra and start fresh. That means trading Korver, who is still capable of fitting in just about any system.
Cleveland has been “testing the market” for Korver recently, so let’s explore a few possible landing spots for the 37-year-old.
76ers: Korver spent his first four seasons in Philadelphia, scoring a career-high 14.4 points per game in 2006-07 while leading the league in free throw percentage (91.4). The Sixers discussed a deal involving Korver and Jerryd Bayless over the summer, so why not figure out how to get it done now?
Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz are going to need space to operate. Imagine Korver and JJ Redick running around the floor with Simmons driving down the lane or Embiid posting up on the block. Deciding whether to help or stay home would consistently put opposing defense in tough positions.
The Sixers are near the bottom of the league in offensive rating (105.3) and 3-point percentage (33.9), so a specialist like Korver would be a welcome addition for head coach Brett Brown.
Thunder: The shooting in Oklahoma City … yikes. The Thunder are dead last from 3-point range (29.1 percent), and among the players in the regular rotation, Alex Abrines leads the team at 35.0 percent from beyond the arc. Paul George and Patrick Patterson should improve, but there just aren’t many outside threats that scare defenders into rushing out toward the perimeter.
Insert Korver, a career 43.1 percent shooter from deep. His gravity could shift defenses and make life easier for Russell Westbrook. Plus, OKC’s defense has enough length and athleticism to cover for Korver on that end.
Youngsters like Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo could develop into useful role players down the road, but they aren’t ready yet. Korver and the Thunder feel like an ideal match.
Lakers: Yes, defense is the biggest issue in Los Angeles. No, Korver won’t suddenly start locking down the West’s best scorers. But more shooting can’t hurt the Lakers, and James and Korver have real chemistry together.
Last season with the Cavs, James totaled 89 assists to Korver, making him the second-highest recipient of LeBron assists behind only Kevin Love (139). Those assists came on nearly half the number of passes to Love, so when James found Korver, there was a good chance a shot was coming.
The Lakers could use a boost in the backcourt, but they may search for a more flexible wing prior to the trade deadline. There’s also a chance the roster is completely different in 2019 depending on how the first half of the season goes.
If they are seeking a deal on the fringes that moves the needle, James’ old teammate is worth a look.
Hawks: Hey, nostalgia can be fun. Korver enjoyed his most successful years in Atlanta, earning an All-Star nod in 2015 as part of the 60-win Hawks with Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and DeMarre Carroll. With his career winding down, it could be fun to watch Korver serve as a mentor to the young Hawks and play their run-and-gun style.
If Korver is hoping to win a championship before he retires, then the Hawks don’t make much sense. However, if it’s not a title-or-bust mentality for Korver, he should consider throwing on that old No. 26 jersey again. Another veteran presence can do wonders for a locker room.
Warriors: Kidding! Only kidding! Don’t get upset. Please don’t throw that.
OK, too soon. No Golden State jokes.
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