For obvious reasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have hit the reset button.
Not only are they leaning towards giving their young core, featuring Cedi Osman, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr and Collin Sexton, the bulk of the playing time, they even went so far as to fire the head coach who helped guide them to their only title, Ty Lue.
Because of this youth movement, veterans like JR Smith, Channing Frye and Kyle Korver have been forced to mostly watch the action from the sidelines.
One of those guys, Smith, all but requested a trade already.
Could Korver be next?
“Meanwhile, the Cavs have initiated testing the trade market for guard Kyle Korver in the past several days, sources said. There was some trade interest in Korver last summer, and the Cavs are circling back on those talks.”
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
The Oklahoma City Thunder have reeled off four consecutive wins despite a slow start, proving that they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference yet again this season.
However, in spite of their recent success, Oklahoma City still ranks 25th league-wide in offensive rating (106.4) while placing dead last in three-point percentage (29.1 percent). So although they’re a lock to win a lot of regular-season outings with the way their roster is set up, they’re going to need a more reliable offense to make a push in the postseason. After all, since Kevin Durant’s departure, the Thunder have yet to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
One way they could help shore up their point production would be to acquire an elite outside threat – and someone like Korver would be perfect to fill that role. The experienced sharpshooter would be an immediate upgrade over the Terrance Ferguson/Hamidou Diallo/Alex Abrines triumvirate that Oklahoma City has been relying on this season with Andre Roberson still unavailable due to injury, and even when Roberson returns, Korver could still see time playing next to the defensive-minded wing.
There hasn’t been much scuttle connecting Korver to the Thunder, but the pairing, on paper at least, appears to be perfect: a contender lacking a shooter and a shooter who needs to be around elite players to maximize his potential.
Next to stud ball-handlers like Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Korver’s knockdown spot-up shooting would really get a chance to shine again.
Like the Thunder, the Houston Rockets also got off to a bit of a slow start this year, though their reasons were a bit more glaring. First, Chris Paul got suspended for a couple of games due to the ugly brawl in Los Angeles, Then, James Harden tweaked his hamstring and was forced to miss time.
Regardless, Houston general manager Daryl Morey isn’t the type to just wait around and hope his team’s fortunes change on their own. If he sees a chance to acquire a player who thinks can step in and help right away, he has never hesitated to do so. And although most of the scuttle regarding the Rockets and outside players revolves around Jimmy Butler, adding a guy like Korver would also make some sense.
Could you imagine the types of looks Korver would get playing next to the outstanding backcourt of Paul and Harden? They would rival the looks he was getting back when he was still teammates with the best player in basketball.
The Rockets are currently 24th in three-point shooting (34 percent), so the need for more accurate marksmen is there.
Plus (admittedly, this is looking ahead a good bit here), if the Rockets do pull off a deal for Butler, many expect them to offer backup 2-guard Eric Gordon in return. So as a complementary transaction, trading for Korver to fill the void left behind by the 2016-17 Sixth Man of the Year would make a ton of sense.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Speaking of the best player in basketball, how about a reunion between him and Korver?
The duo of LeBron James and Korver were a deadly tandem as Cavaliers, with James setting up the shooting specialist with open look after open look on a nightly basis. Korver was never close to the star his counterpart was, but in his role, there was no one better.
So why wouldn’t the Los Angeles Lakers be interested in getting the two back together? Especially when factoring in how poorly their actual backup 2-guard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, has performed thus far this season. Caldwell-Pope has struggled so mightily this year, in fact, that it only took him three games to lose his starting job, and when you look at his numbers (5.9 points per game on 22.2 percent shooting from deep), it’s not hard to surmise why head coach Luke Walton decided to bench him.
Needless to say, even at 37 years old, Korver would be a massive improvement in the same role.
Granted, defense has been the bigger problem for the Lakers than offense, but even so, Korver would be a net positive gain for L.A.
Perhaps the most interesting potential landing spot for Korver, at least from an emotional perspective, would be with the Philadelphia 76ers, the team where he got his start back in 2003-04. Korver spent his first 4.5 seasons in Philadelphia, flashing his brilliance as a three-point shooter more and more as he gained experience, before getting traded to the Utah Jazz late in 2007.
Korver returning to the 76ers wouldn’t just be a feel-good story, though; his services would give Philadelphia’s struggling offense a big boost.
Coming off screens on the opposite wing from JJ Redick, with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid setting him up, Korver would experience an instant resurgence, as well, and more closely resemble the 2017-18 version of himself.
Truth be told, however, although it would be fun to see Korver return to the first team he played for, his skill set would make him the perfect fit on not just the four teams we listed here, but on any playoff contender around the Association.
He’s the ultimate pro’s pro, and the one thing he does well (drain spot-up triples), he does better than just about anyone else in recent NBA history.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter @FrankUrbina_.