Kyle Korver

Suns Waive Kyle Korver

After being traded from the Jazz to the Grizzlies to the Suns, Kyle Korver has now been placed on waivers by Phoenix, according to NBA.com’s log of official transactions.

The move was expected, since only $3.44MM of Korver’s $7.5MM salary for 2019/20 was guaranteed. The Suns needed to open up extra cap room to sign Ricky Rubio to his three-year, $51MM contract, and releasing Korver helps pave the way.

Korver is now on track to clear waivers and become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday evening. When he first reported that Korver would be cut, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski identified the Lakers, Bucks, and Sixers as the probable frontrunners to sign the veteran sharpshooter once he reaches the open market.

Korver averaged 8.6 PPG on .416/.397/.822 shooting in 70 games (19.1 MPG) last season for the Cavaliers and Jazz. A June report indicated that the 38-year-old – who is a career 42.9% three-point shooter – is expected to play for at least one more year.

Grizzlies, Suns Swap Kyle Korver, Josh Jackson In Multi-Player Trade

JULY 7: The trade is official, the Suns announced in a press release.

JULY 3: The Grizzlies and Suns have agreed to a trade that will send newly-acquired Memphis sharpshooter Kyle Korver to Phoenix along with Jevon Carter, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, the Grizzlies will receive Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton, a 2020 second-round pick, and a conditional 2021 second-round pick in the deal.

That 2021 Suns second-rounder will only change hands if it falls between 31-35, tweets Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. Brooklyn will receive it if it lands between 36-60.

Because Korver is part of the Mike Conley trade with Utah that hasn’t yet been completed, this deal can’t be made official until after the one is finalized. Once both deals are done, the Grizzlies will pick up a former No. 4 overall pick (Jackson), as well as a second-rounder from last year’s draft (Melton), along with at least one future second-round pick.

In two NBA seasons, Jackson has been inconsistent for the Suns, averaging 12.3 PPG and 4.5 RPG but shooting just .415/.294/.650 in 156 total contests (25.3 MPG). He has also faced questions about his maturity and off-court behavior.

However, he’s still just 22 years old, so the Grizzlies will get the opportunity to see if they can continue to develop him and help him reach his ceiling. They’ll also have to decide by the end of October whether to pick up $8.9MM option for 2020/21 — at this point, I’d be surprised if they do.

Melton, the 46th overall pick in 2018’s draft, is another intriguing roll of the dice for Memphis, one the team has long had its eye on, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The former USC Trojan is considered a strong defender, and started 31 games for the Suns in his rookie season, averaging 5.0 PPG, 3.2 APG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in 50 total contests.

As for the Suns’ side, the move looks like it’s primarily designed to clear the cap room necessary to complete their other reported moves this week, including Ricky Rubio‘s three-year, $51MM deal. They’ll also be able to retain Kelly Oubre‘s cap hold, and will presumably see if Carter can earn some minutes in their backcourt rotation.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Korver is expected to be bought out by Phoenix before his $7.5MM salary for 2019/20 becomes fully guaranteed. Korver’s deal is only partially guaranteed for $3.44MM as long as he doesn’t remain under contract through July 7.

If and when Korver clears waivers, the Lakers, Bucks, and Sixers will be the frontrunners to sign him, says Wojnarowski.

As cap expert Albert Nahmad observes (via Twitter), the Grizzlies will be able to use trade exceptions to absorb Jackson’s and Melton’s contracts, generating two new trade exceptions worth $3.44MM (Korver’s partial guarantee) and $1.42MM (Carter’s salary).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Grizzlies Trade Mike Conley To Jazz

JULY 6: The trade sending Conley to the Jazz is now official, per the NBA’s transactions log. Darius Bazley, who was selected with the No. 23 overall pick last month, will be re-routed from Utah to Oklahoma City in a subsequent deal, while Korver will be sent to Phoenix.

JUNE 19: The Grizzlies and Jazz have reached an agreement on a trade that will send standout point guard Mike Conley to Utah, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Memphis will receive a package made up of Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, the No. 23 pick in the 2019 draft, and a future first-round pick. Per Wojnarowski (via Twitter), that second first-rounder will be a 2020 pick, which features protections through 2024.

Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian provides the full details on those protections, tweeting that the Grizzlies will get the pick in 2020 or 2021 if it falls in the 8-14 range. If it doesn’t convey in either of those drafts, it would become top-six protected in 2022, top-three protected in 2023, and top-one protected in 2024.

The deal will be completed once the new league year begins in July for cap reasons, according to Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). The Jazz will have to absorb Conley using their newly-opened cap room, but won’t necessarily have to waive Derrick Favors‘ non-guaranteed contract to make the deal work, Marks notes (via Twitter).

It’s a huge acquisition for the Jazz, who will be able to pair Conley with Donovan Mitchell in their backcourt, with Favors and Rudy Gobert up front and Joe Ingles providing floor spacing on the wing.

[RELATED: Ricky Rubio not counting on return to the Jazz]

Conley, 31, is coming off perhaps the best season of his NBA career, having averaged a career-high 21.1 PPG to go along with 6.4 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and a .438/.364/.845 shooting line.

Utah reportedly tried to land Conley at the trade deadline, putting an offer on the table that featured expiring contracts and a first-round pick, but that wasn’t enough to get Memphis to accept. The Jazz figured to face competition for the point guard from possible suitors like the Pacers, Heat, Celtics, and Mavericks when they circled back this offseason, but they were able to get a deal done early in the summer.

The Jazz can now focus on filling out their roster with complementary players. With Conley’s lucrative contract set to hit their books, they’ll no longer be a player for major free agents, but will have the room exception available. It’s projected to be worth $4.76MM.

Conley is owed $32.5MM in 2019/20 and $34.5MM in 2020/21 before his contract expires in 2021. His deal aligns him with Utah’s other core pieces — currently, Mitchell and Gobert are both on track to reach free agency in 2021 as well.

As for the Grizzlies, they’re expected to shift into rebuilding mode after trading long-time cornerstones Marc Gasol in February and Conley now. They’re poised to select Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick in tomorrow’s draft to supplant Conley as their point guard of the future. He and Jaren Jackson Jr. project to be the franchise’s building blocks going forward.

It’s not clear yet whether the Grizzlies intend to keep all the players and draft picks they’re acquiring in exchange for Conley. Crowder and Korver are on fairly modest expiring contracts (Korver’s salary is only partially guaranteed) and could appeal to contenders. Allen and the picks, on the other hand, represent solid assets for Memphis’ rebuild, though David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link) hears that the club will listen to offers for the No. 23 selection.

The Grizzlies are also in position to create a massive traded player exception in the swap, assuming they remain an over-the-cap team. Cap expert Albert Nahmad estimates the value of that exception to be about $25MM (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kyle Korver Likely To Return For 17th Season

Kyle Korver has yet to officially announce a decision on his future, but Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link) hears from a source that the sharpshooter is likely to play at least one more season. It’s possible that the 38-year-old continues playing for two more years, Stein adds.

Back in April, it sounded as if Korver was seriously considering hanging up his jersey after 16 years in the NBA.

“There’s a real cost as you get older,” Korver said at the end of Utah’s season. “There’s what you need to put into the game, but there’s also a family cost. That’s probably where I’m at is weighing that cost.”

Korver’s contract runs for one more year, paying him $7.5MM as part of the deal he signed with the Cavaliers in 2017. That figure is only partially guaranteed for $3.44MM up until July 7, however.

Korver will head to Memphis in the Mike Conley deal, which will be completed once the new league year officially begins on July 6. If the rebuilding Grizzlies don’t have Korver in their plans for next season, it’s possible he’ll be flipped to another team or bought out before his salary becomes fully guaranteed, allowing him to join a contender.

Kyle Korver Mulling Retirement

The Jazz’ 2018/19 season is now over after Wednesday night’s Game 5 loss to the Rockets. And while countless decisions abound, one of those decisions will be made for a second time, writes Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News.

Sharpshooter Kyle Korver, now 38, will consider calling it quits again this offseason after mulling the same decision last summer. Korver’s current contract runs through next season, but his $7.5MM salary is only guaranteed for $3.44MM. His 2019/20 salary becomes fully guaranteed on July 7. Korver says his family will be a primary factor in his decision.

“There’s a real cost as you get older,” Korver said of playing professional basketball. “There’s what you need to put into the game, but there’s also a family cost. That’s probably where I’m at is weighing that cost.”

Should Korver decide to retire this summer, he’ll finish with a career scoring average of 9.9 PPG on an impressive .443/.429/.878 shooting line. His 2,351 three-point field goals made currently ranks fourth all-time behind Ray AllenReggie Miller, and Stephen Curry, making him one of the best three-point shooters of all time.

Northwest Notes: Thomas, Korver, Blazers, Harris

Despite coping with injuries and struggling to gain playing time in the past 18 months, Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas is confident the process will turn around for the better, Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated writes. Thomas, 30, will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

“I’m blessed. I know it’s going to turn at one point,” Thomas told The Undefeated. “I worked too hard for it not to. It’s always been like that in my career. I’ve seen this story before. I’ve seen this page, I’ve seen this chapter, and I know what’s gonna happen in the end. I’m going to take it back to the top, and then people are going to all show that fake love again. That’s all it is.

“It’s just a bump in the road that I hit, and like I’ve said about Nipsey [Hussle], it’s a marathon. You just got to keep running, keep running the race and keep working hard.”

Thomas played just 12 games with the Nuggets this season and 32 total games the season before with Cleveland and Los Angeles, working to get back to full strength after undergoing a major hip surgery last March.

It was just two years ago that he was leading the Celtics to a deep postseason run, cementing himself as one of the top point guards in the league. For Thomas, he hopes to be able to play basketball for several more seasons and extend his career until he turns 40.

“Oh, hell no,” Thomas said when asked if he considered retiring last year. “I’m playing until I’m 40. … I want to play until I can’t no more. For sure.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Jazz guard Kyle Korver is dealing with some concerning knee pain ahead of Sunday’s Game 1 against the Rockets, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Korver, who’s listed as available to play, appeared to cut short a normal shooting workout on Saturday due to the pain. Korver shot 38% from behind-the-arc in 54 games this season with Utah, averaging 20.1 minutes per contest off the bench.
  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian labels five storylines to watch in the Trail Blazers-Thunder series, including how Portland’s new starting five operates. The Blazers appear poised to start Enes Kanter in place of the injured Jusuf Nurkic for the rest of the postseason, with Kanter tallying 20 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks in a Game 1 victory against the Thunder on Sunday.
  • Gary Harris could be the “X-Factor” for the Nuggets in their first-round series against the Spurs, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post writes. Harris, a prominent offensive option in Denver’s rotation, finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting in a Game 1 loss to San Antonio on Saturday. The Nuggets need his production to take back homecourt advantage from the Spurs, a talented team led by the likes of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.

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.