The Cleveland Cavaliers have gone from competing, to wanting to play their young guys, to having their head coach ignore that and play the veterans anyway, to then sending them back to the bench – and now potentially off the roster.
One of those players is Kyle Korver. The 37-year-old guard may be on the last legs of his career, but he still possesses significant value as a sharpshooter. That talent is being wasted on a Cavaliers bench that went from shooting the third-most 3-pointers in the league last season to 29th this season. Cleveland is unable to facilitate an offense that generates the most important shot in the NBA. So, naturally, given Korver’s age and primary skillset, the Cavs are looking to deal him.
Korver’s name was brought up in trade talks prior to this season, potentially going to back to the team he started his career with, the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers lost some perimeter shooting this past offseason in Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, so they could use Korver to space the floor.
Oklahoma City could use him too. They are off to a horrific start shooting the basketball from deep, 29th and 30th in the league in 3-point makes and 3-point shooting percentage respectively. But both Philadelphia and Oklahoma City have an assortment of riches already and theoretically should be better. Statically those teams will likely even out and the percentages will steady.
The same can not be said about the Detroit Pistons. They could really use the services of Kyle Korver and might just need him to make the playoffs. Philadelphia and Oklahoma City are likely to make the playoffs without Korver. Detroit is not as sure of a thing, especially with the injury bug making its way to the team’s current shooters. Luke Kennard and Reggie Bullock are dealing with injuries and the Andre Drummond stretch-five experiment was never really going to happen. Reggie Jackson has been a bright light so far this season, but consistent 3-point shooting is necessary in this league. The Pistons need more of it.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on the Hoop Collective Podcast mentioned Detroit as a possible landing spot for Korver, so the idea is not outside the realm of possibility. But he, like myself, has come to a puzzling halt: what can the Pistons offer? They own their first and second-round picks for 2019, but no other second-round selections until 2024. A first-round pick would be awfully steep to give to Cleveland for an aging player who is not the quickest defensively. A second-round pick plus a player is likely, though Oklahoma City and Philadelphia could offer the same if not better. Detroit does not have the ammunition to get into a bidding war.
Speaking of ammunition, the Pistons have some pretty expensive ammo. So much so, that they are in salary cap Hell. Korver is due $7 million this season and is guaranteed for $3.4 million next year. A contract would have to be going back to the Cavaliers, but very few would be appealing. Jon Leuer and Langston Galloway are two candidates given their high salary, but they may be too expensive. If Detroit attaches a first-round pick to them as an added incentive for the Cavs to take the offer, it may be too rich to give up for Korver.
Regardless, the Pistons could use the outside shooting. They are 20th in the league in 3-point attempts and tied for 26th in 3-point shooting percentage. This is an NBA in which outside shooting is essential to success and Detroit could use some help. Swinging a deal for Kyle Korver would space the offense, probably the second unit, and force opposing defenders to think twice about taking an extra step away from the perimeter. That second-guessing by the defender, or being a step late behind a screen, is all it takes to make them pay.
It is probably smart to let the market play out a little longer, but not much. The Pistons have the tools to make a playoff run, but adding Kyle Korver would be a sharp one to add to Dwane Casey’s arsenal.
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