After four years of dominance of the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers are entering a rebuilding period after losing LeBron James for the second time. Even though Cleveland made a myriad of short-sighted moves to help contend with James in town, they are now paying for it. The Cavaliers are strapped for cash with Tristan Thompson ($36 million), Jordan Clarkson ($25 million), George Hill ($20 million) and J.R. Smith ($18 million) on the team’s payroll over the next two seasons. To add insult to injury, the aforementioned players will likely flounder with James now gone and with their bloated salaries, the Cavaliers will be hard pressed to move any of them in trades.
Another veteran who will likely flounder without James, but actually has trade value, is Kyle Korver. While it would not be met with approval from fans, Korver is actually one of Cleveland’s best trade assets. He is owed $11 million over the next two seasons, a positive teammate in the locker room and one of the league’s top three-point threats with a career average of 43.1% from beyond the arc. Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Oklahoma City Thunder or even Los Angeles Lakers would all likely want to add Korver to their roster. Cleveland could easily get a first round pick for Korver, along with additional young talent to develop, thanks to the demand for a player of his skillset.
But, even if Korver garnered a ton of interest on the trade market, the Cavaliers may not look to move him. Soon after James’ exit, Cleveland general manager Koby Altman made it clear that the team was still looking to be playoff contenders. Getting rid of Korver would be the antithesis of Cleveland’s plans for this upcoming season. But, despite this, the Cavaliers should look to move Korver for a litany of reasons.
Not only did Altman express that Cleveland would be a playoff-caliber team, but he also shared that they were entering the “player development business”. With the moves Altman made both at last year’s trade deadline and over the summer in acquiring Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Sam Dekker and David Nwaba, Cleveland is loaded with young players to develop for the future around the perimeter.
All of these recent additions to Cleveland’s roster will impede Korver’s chances of getting minutes this season and it has been showing so far in the preseason. In Cleveland’s first exhibition against the Boston Celtics Korver only saw eleven minutes of action and did not play in the second. All of the aforementioned wing players saw plenty of action on the court and head coach Tyronn Lue made it clear that his rotations will help with player development.
If Cleveland is rarely going to play Korver, then he is wasting the last few moments of his career riding the pine. During the Cavaliers’ media day, Korver spoke about how he strongly considered retirement this offseason:
“I took a good chunk of time and kind of got away from the game and really evaluated a lot of things and really tried to decide if I still had the desire to play,” Korver said at Cavs media day. “I talked things through with my wife and my family and look at my kids. I can’t quite talk it through with them yet but just try to get a feel for where they’re at in life.”
In the end, despite mulling retirement, Korver returned to Cleveland this season. But if he is barely going to play and almost at the end of the career then why not trade him? Especially on a team that is going to be entering a rebuild, why not allow Korver to contend for a championship in the last few years of his career?
This is why the Cavaliers should trade Korver, especially to a contending team like Philadelphia, or a serious playoff threat like Oklahoma City or Los Angeles. All three of these teams would also be able to offer Cleveland an attractive trade package as well. Philadelphia could offer a package centered around Furkan Korkmaz, a young wing with potential, and draft picks. Oklahoma City could offer Alex Abrines, Terrance Ferguson and a future draft pick for Korver. The Lakers could offer a package centered around Josh Hart and reunite Korver with James and fix their anemic three-point shooting. All three packages would be long-term wins for Cleveland and also give Korver a few more cracks at trying to win his first NBA Championship.
If the Cavaliers are so hellbent on player development it would be remiss of them to not move Korver. When Cleveland first obtained Korver, they sent the Atlanta Hawks a first-round pick that is top ten protected the next two seasons. With a top-heavy NBA draft class coming up this summer, Cleveland should look to try and get deep into the lottery and moving Korver will help with that. When Cleveland first obtained Korver, he became a part of one of the greatest offenses of all time and had a few shots at an NBA title. Now, Korver is a relic of Cleveland’s past and it would benefit both sides for the Cavaliers to trade him to a contender.