Kyle Korver

Central Notes, Bullock, I. Smith, Bucks, Leaf

Reggie Bullock and Ish Smith have been solid this season for the Pistons and would have some value on the trade market, given their modest salaries and expiring contracts. However, the club would like to re-sign both players during the 2019 offseason, if possible, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. That would throw a wrench into the idea of trading either player during the season.

Ellis notes that Bullock, in particular, is generating “strong” interest on the trade market. The sixth-year wing is having another excellent shooting season for the Pistons, making 39.8% of his three-point attempts. That’s nearly right in line with his 40.2% career rate, and would appeal to a ton of contenders — especially given his $2.5MM salary.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Frank Isola takes an in-depth look at Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry in an interesting piece for The Athletic. Within the story, Lasry confirms that Milwaukee made an effort to acquire Kyle Korver from Cleveland before the Cavs traded him to Utah earlier this season. A December report had suggested that the Bucks came close to trading for both Korver and George Hill before working out a separate deal for Hill.
  • T.J. Leaf, who has had a chance to play regular minutes with Myles Turner sidelined, may stick in the Pacers‘ rotation even after Turner returns, head coach Nate McMillan said this week. Mark Montieth of Pacers.com has the story, along with the quotes from McMillan.
  • Kris Dunn has been something of an enigma in his first season and a half with the Bulls, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com, who explores whether the former fifth overall pick can still be Chicago’s point guard of the future.

Cavs Notes: Love, Osman, Sexton, McCaw, Korver

Marc Stein of The New York Times predicted this week that trade talks involving Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love will heat up in advance of next month’s deadline, but sources reiterated to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that Cleveland hasn’t had “deep discussion” about that scenario. Fedor added that it isn’t high on the club’s list of priorities.

Still, if the Cavs get an enticing offer for Love this season, they’ll have to consider it. That’s a possibility head coach Larry Drew is aware of and prepared for, even if it’s probably a long shot.

“Would I be surprised (if Love were traded)?” Drew said on Thursday, per Fedor. “As far as trades are concerned, I understand the nature of this business. Anybody can be traded. I’ve been in this league long enough where I’ve seen that happen. I think any deal that makes sense for any team, sure, they’ll be willing to pull the trigger. But that’s just the nature of our business.”

For now, Drew is simply looking forward to getting Love back in his lineup. The five-time All-Star has been sidelined since October due to a foot injury, but is said to be targeting a mid-January return.

“Our guys are ready for him to come back,” Drew said. “We miss him dearly. He’s our main guy, he’s our go-to guy. We’re missing a lot of points, we’re missing a lot of rebounds in our lineup. Whenever it’s time for him to come back, we’re going to be ready.”

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton have two of the worst defensive ratings in the NBA, prompting Joe Vardon of The Athletic to explore whether the Cavs are asking too much of the young duo. For his part, Osman has appreciated the opportunity to work through his ups and downs so far this season. “This is really important for my development — even on nights when I’m struggling, it’s really important that coaches are trusting in me,” the second-year forward said. “Those crucial minutes, they always put me in the game and they want me to feel that pressure. I really appreciate that.”
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes a look at whether newly-added shooting guard Patrick McCaw, who made his Cavs debut on Wednesday, can help improve the team’s defense against opposing point guards. McCaw’s $3MM salary for this season will become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract with the Cavs through Monday.
  • Having been traded from Cleveland to Utah earlier this season, Kyle Korver won’t be looking for any sort of payback when he faces the Cavs on Friday, as Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News relays. Korver said he had too many “great experiences” as a Cavalier to be anything but appreciative for his time in Cleveland. “Some people come back with a chip on their shoulder and feel like they’ve got to give it to the other team, but it’s not going to be like that for me,” Korver said. “Just a lot of gratitude for the time I had there.”

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Jones, Korver, Thibodeau

The Nuggets are entering 2019 with the No. 1 record in the Western Conference, sporting an improved defense with their usual stellar play on offense this season. The team has worked for its success despite being hammered with injuries to key players such as Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Will Barton over the past two months.

“It’s worth enjoying,” Jamal Murray said, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “It’s something you don’t want to give up. You drop to second, ‘You’re like, damn.’ Even though we’re not really paying attention to it, it’s in your sub-conscious. We’re the top team in the West for a reason.”

The next challenge for the Nuggets, head coach Mike Malone says, is not becoming complacent and taking the success for granted.

“The moment you come up for air, the moment you become satisfied, you will fall and fall quickly,” Malone said. “That’s how close the Western Conference is. You lose three games, you can drop eight spots.”

Denver owns a 23-11 record this season, but the team is scheduled to play five games in the first eight days of 2019 — including three contests on the road. Their resiliency and attitude toward shuffled rotations have been effective so far, with players such as Isaiah Thomas and Michael Porter Jr. also not seeing any game action yet.

Thomas is expected to return at some point in the coming weeks, while Porter Jr. may be out until the 2019/20 season. Millsap, Harris and Barton are each working to get back to 100 percent after sustaining respective injuries in December.

Here are some other notes from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones has looked comfortable while starting at point, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. With both Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose out to injuries, Jones started for the team on Sunday against the Heat, then again on Monday against the Pelicans. He was able to notch 15 points and 13 assists in 38 minutes during Monday’s contest. “I felt great,” Jones said. “Continue to just try to make the right reads, the right plays and just play my game. Just continue to do so whether that’s shooting, playing off of other guys, getting certain guys going, no matter what it is, make sure we’re in the best position to try to win the game.”
  • Kyle Korver has positively impacted the Jazz one month after being traded to the team, Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News writes.  Utah holds a 7-1 record in games when Korver makes two or more 3-pointers and a 1-6 record when he makes one or less. “Since I have come on, it is a lot of me just trying to find my spot and be comfortable with how we try to play,” Korver said on Saturday, according to McDonald. The Jazz own a 18-19 record on the season.
  • Michael Scotto of The Athletic explores Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s coaching style through his longtime players, including the likes of Rose, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. Thibodeau is known for being a hard-nosed, disciplined NBA coach who prides himself on tough work and dedication. “His quote is always, ‘The magic is in the work,’” Deng said of Thibodeau. “It just tells you he’s going to put in as many hours as it takes to get it done.”

Bucks Notes: Lopez, Ilyasova, 2019 Cap Space

The transformation and development of the Bucks has been one of the hottest storylines of the season, as Mike Budenholzer has implemented a more modern offensive system and surrounded Giannis Antetokounmpo with enough floor spacers to make his rim attacks unstoppable. As a result, the Bucks own the league’s third-ranked offense which, when coupled with the sixth-ranked defense, makes for a potent combination.

One of the key additions this season has been Brook Lopez, who has transformed his offensive game to mainly be a spot-up shooter, a vast difference from the Lopez of a couple seasons ago. As Jonathan Tjarks writes for The Ringer, Lopez has been a huge part of the Bucks’ offense, as the team is significantly better with him on the floor. In fact, the Bucks “go from having what would be the highest offensive rating in NBA history with Lopez (115.6 in 832 minutes) to a bottom-five offense in the league without him (103.9 in 618 minutes).”

However, Tjarks also points out that due to Lopez’s limited athleticism, the Bucks have designed a defensive scheme that could easily be exposed come playoff time, as it has already been attacked throughout the regular season. It will be interesting to see what the trade-off is come the playoffs, as Lopez provides significant offensive value for the Bucks.

There’s more from the Bucks:

  • Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN had a feature on the Bucks’ ascension to the upper echelon in the league, detailing the additions of Budenholzer and Lopez and how they both relate to Antetokounmpo’s rise to becoming a potential MVP. Within his story, Arnovitz reports that the Bucks came “tantalizingly close” to acquiring both George Hill and Kyle Korver from Cleveland before the Cavs sent Korver to Utah instead.
  • Unfortunately for the Bucks, they will be without their other main offseason addition in Ersan Ilyasova, as the floor-spacing big man recently underwent surgery to repair a fractured nose, an injury he suffered during practice.
  • While the Bucks are certainly a feel-good story of the season, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports points out that the summer of 2019 could bring some changes to their core, with Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon all becoming free agents. As Feldman reveals, the Bucks will have around $67MM under the luxury tax to spend on bringing those four players back, but it certainly isn’t set in stone.

Western Notes: Korver, Nowitzki, Rockets, Rose

Shooting guard Kyle Korver knew the Cavaliers’ front office might deal him early in the season and he listed the Jazz as one of his preferred destinations, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News reports. Korver was traded for Alec Burks and two future second-round picks. “It feels like a good fit,” Korver told Woodyard. Korver is in his second stint with Utah, having played there from 2007-10. He has averaged 8.5 PPG in 19.5 MPG in his first two games since the deal.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Dirk Nowitzki participated in a 3-on-3 scrimmage at the end of practice on Monday as he nears his return to action, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. The longtime Mavericks power forward has not played this season due to a left ankle injury. Dallas is hopeful he can make his season debut sometime this month. “He’s got to keep working on strength, playing simulation games with some of our guys,” coach Rick Carlisle told Sefko. “Sprinting, moving and all that. It’s never going to be the same as running out there with real NBA players. But you got to do what you can do.”
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni believes improved health will lead to better defense, as he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets currently rank 26th in that department. Nene and Chris (Paul) coming back, first of all, that’s two of the better defenders in the league, so that helps,” D’Antoni said. “That’s going to take minutes off Clint (Capela) and P.J. (Tucker). So they’ll be better defensively because they won’t be as tired. … We know we need to be in the top 10 to be a real contender.”
  • D’Antoni has high praise for the Timberwolves’ Derrick Rose, who has reinvented himself as a shooting guard, Feigen writes in a separate story. Rose is averaging 19.3 PPG despite starting just five of 21 games. “Accepting new roles is tough. Some guys can do it. Some guys just can’t do it,” D’Antoni said. “They can try to shoot threes all they want. When they can do it, for the team, obviously, it’s beneficial. The league has changed. If you want to be effective, you have to change sometimes.”

Cavaliers Notes: Korver, Burks, Hill, Sexton

The Cavaliersdecision to trade Kyle Korver to the Jazz on Wednesday was made because the team wanted to move him while he was still healthy and productive, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Korver has a history of foot issues, most recently causing him to miss two games last month. Korver has been on the market for a while and the Cavs didn’t want to take the chance of another injury derailing a deal.

Cleveland had been hoping to get a first-round pick in exchange for the 37-year-old sharpshooter, Pluto adds, and although several teams were interested in acquiring Korver, no one was willing to part with a first-rounder. Several Cavaliers teammates were upset to lose Korver, who had a 22-point game on Monday.

There’s more news today out of Cleveland:

  • Alec Burks, whom the Cavs acquired in the Korver deal, is thrilled about the chance for more playing time, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Burks already has a connection to Rodney Hood and George Hill, his former teammates in Utah, and to coach Larry Drew, who played against Burks’ father. “Opportunity is everything in this league,” Burks said. “I feel like I have a great one here. Just trying to take advantage of it and help my new team win.” However, Fedor points out that Burks’ stay in Cleveland might be brief. He has an $11.5MM expiring contract that could make him attractive to a contender before the February 7 trade deadline.
  • Hill is returning to action tonight after missing more than three weeks with a sprained shoulder, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Drew confirmed that Hill is ready to go, adding that rookie Collin Sexton will remain in the starting lineup as the shooting guard.
  • The Cavaliers made a couple of housekeeping moves this week, according to the Real GM transactions page, renouncing their free-agent exception rights to Shawn Marion and James Jones. Marion retired in 2015, while Jones called it quits in 2017 and serves as interim GM of the Suns.

Cavaliers Trade Kyle Korver To Jazz

NOVEMBER 29: The Cavaliers and Jazz have officially issued press releases confirming the trade.

NOVEMBER 28: The Jazz have agreed to trade Alec Burks and two future second-round picks to the Cavaliers in exchange for sharpshooting veteran Kyle Korver, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). Wojnarowski adds that the picks being sent to Cleveland are Utah’s 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick via the Wizards.

Korver, 37, is averaging 6.8 points on 46.1% shooting from the field and 46.3% from beyond the arc in 15.7 minutes per game so far this season. The 15-year veteran previously played three seasons in Utah, from 2007-10, before signing with the Bulls in the summer of 2010.

Burks, meanwhile, is averaging 8.4 points on 41.2% shooting from the field and 37.2% from beyond the arc in an almost identical 15.8 minutes per game. The 27-year-old guard has spent his entire seven-year career in Utah after being drafted 12th overall in 2011.

The Jazz, who have stumbled out of the gate to a disappointing record of 9-12 and currently sit as the 14-seed in the Western Conference, rank 29th in 3-point shooting. The trade for Korver will likely improve upon that figure and open things up for Donovan Mitchell, who has yet to show much improvement upon his scintillating rookie campaign.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes, Korver has a $7.56MM cap hit this season and will earn $7.5MM in 2019-20. But, his salary for next season is only guaranteed for $3.44MM before July 7, 2019. Burks is in the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $11.54MM.

Under NBA trade rules, the Cavaliers are able to absorb a player whose salary is up to $5MM more than Korver’s salary (i.e. $12.56MM), meaning Burks’ salary of $11.54MM will fit nicely and still keep the Cavs over $4MM under the luxury-tax level. Moreover, the Cavs create an additional $3.44MM in cap space for next season, the amount of Korver’s 2019/20 guarantee, thanks to Burks being on an expiring contract.

The Jazz, meanwhile, will create a $3.98MM trade exception, that figure representing the difference between the two players’ salaries. They’ll have one year from the date of the trade to use that exception to acquire another player, if they so wish.

Earlier today, we relayed how the Cavs were willing to take on long-term salary in exchange for other assets, so being able to get two draft picks and an expiring contract for Korver must feel like a real win for Cleveland’s front office.

Reactions, Notes On Trade Sending Korver To Jazz

The Cavaliers and the Jazz struck a deal on Wednesday, agreeing to a trade that will send Kyle Korver to Utah in exchange for Alec Burks and a pair of second-round picks. The move isn’t technically official yet, but Korver has already weighed in on it, speaking to Joe Vardon of The Athletic about his impending return to the Jazz.

“I’m thankful that (Cavaliers GM) Koby (Altman) and management were upfront and mindful of my family through this process and are sending us to a great city and organization,” Korver said. “We have lots of friendships there, which will soften the landing.”

As Vardon notes, the Cavaliers aren’t in a particularly good spot by now, and the organization’s image figures to take a hit this season as the losses pile up. However, players inside and outside of the organization will take notice that Cleveland kept Korver in the loop as they explored the trade market, ultimately moving him to a place where he and his family can be comfortable.

Here’s more on the swap between the Cavaliers and Jazz:

  • Although Cavaliers players recognize the team’s situation this season and will appreciate that the franchise sent Korver to a favorable destination, multiple players are a little upset by the trade, according to Vardon. Those players still want to win, and know that the Cavs’ outside shooting will take a big hit with Korver gone. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com has a handful of quotes from Cavs players reacting to the deal.
  • In the view of Jordan Greer of The Sporting News, the Korver swap is a win-win for the Cavaliers, who received an A- grade from Greer, and the Jazz, who got a B+.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com hears that the Cavaliers weren’t confident that Sixers guard Markelle Fultz would have been a strong enough return for Korver, since his shooting issues and possible shoulder problems made it difficult his true value.
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic and Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News explored the impact of the Korver deal from the Jazz‘s side.

Cavaliers Willing To Accept Long-Term Salary In Trades

As the Cavaliers look to unload some of their expensive veterans, they have informed teams that they will take on long-term salary in exchange for other assets, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

With LeBron James gone and the playoffs seemingly out of reach, Cleveland has no interest in holding onto large contracts that will keep the organization near the luxury tax. The Cavs have already informally parted ways with J.R. Smith as they search for a taker for his $14.72MM salary, and several other players could be moved before the February 7 trade deadline.

Kyle Korver, who remains a dangerous 3-point shooter at age 37, should attract the most attention, according to Windhorst. Korver is shooting 46% from beyond the arc and is averaging 6.8 PPG. He is making $7.56MM with a $7.5MM salary for next season that won’t be guaranteed until July.

George Hill, who makes $19MM this season but only has a $1MM guarantee on his $18MM salary for 2019/20, will also be in demand, Windhorst adds. Hill is sidelined with a shoulder injury, but put up good numbers before being hurt. Channing Frye, who makes a modest $1.5MM but has only appeared in three games, is another candidate to go.

Windhorst notes that owner Dan Gilbert conducted a similar selloff when James left the team in 2010. The assets he collected in that process enabled him to bring in Kevin Love and some other valuable pieces when James returned four years later.

Latest On Markelle Fultz

Multiple reports on Monday indicated that the Sixers likely won’t be providing an update on Markelle Fultz‘s status until later this week. The second-year point guard is visiting multiple specialists this week as those doctors attempt to determine what sort of physical issues are plaguing Fultz’s shoulder and wrist.

It will be interesting to see what sort of diagnoses those specialists provide, since not everyone is convinced that Fultz’s problems are physical. According to John Gonzalez of The Ringer, one team source asserted this week that Fultz’s issues are “definitely the yips,” while a source close to the former No. 1 pick insisted he’s hurt and is being bothered by a thumb injury.

In the view of Jordan Greer of The Sporting News, the Sixers and Fultz’s camp aren’t just at odds over whether his problems are physical or mental — the two sides also seem to be moving in opposite directions based on what’s best for the 20-year-old and what’s best for the team, according to Greer, who suggests that an “ugly divorce” may be on the horizon.

For their part, the 76ers have said that they expect Fultz to reclaim a role off the bench once he’s ready to get back on the court. However, Gonzalez is unconvinced that the Sixers are confident that will happen, or if they even want it to happen.

Here’s more on Fultz:

  • The trust that Fultz’s camp had in the Sixers has waned, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. League sources who have inquired on Fultz tell Kyler that they don’t think the former top pick will be on Philadelphia’s roster beyond this season’s trade deadline.
  • Following up on his report that the Cavaliers have inquired on Fultz, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net says those conversations weren’t “serious,” but the two teams left the door open to talk later, and probably will do so. According to Kyler, the Cavs are believed to have discussed a deal centered around Kyle Korver and a draft pick.
  • After speaking to several league executives, John Gonzalez of The Ringer believes that even getting a late first-round pick or early second-rounder in a trade for Fultz might be a tall order for the Sixers.