Kyle Korver is worth the price of admission.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded their 2019 first round pick along with Mike Dunleavy Jr. the reaction was split between mocking the Cavs for giving up a first for a 36-year-old with an expiring contract, and those that could not believe the Atlanta Hawks gave LeBron James a flamethrower.
Fast forward to now and it’s hard to argue that the Cavs didn’t receive a great return on investment. Korver, now inked to a three-year, $22 million contract has continued to produce at a high level.
At 37, Korver attempted a career-high 8.6 three point attempts per game this season, converting 43.6 percent. He also was a solid team defender, despite little help from his supporting cast.
The real surprise was just how crucial Korver ended up being to the Cavs in the playoffs. With Kevin Love and George Hill injured in the first round, Korver ended up being the team’s second best player against Indiana.
While he wasn’t consistent against the Pacers, when he did show up the team was successful. He scored zero points in the Cavs losses in Games 1 and 3, and 49 points in the Game 2, 4, and 5 wins. Without him stepping up, the Cavs likely wouldn’t have the opportunity to advance.
Against the Toronto Raptors, Korver put up his truly signature performance during his time in Cleveland. Averaging 14.5 points per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor and 56 percent from deep, the two man game between he and Love gave the team enough help to sweep the top seed in the East.
Unfortunately Korver once again struggled in the NBA Finals. He went 1-11 from behind the arc with 9 of those attempts being open to wide open according to NBA.com tracking. Shooters go through lulls, even ones as talented as Korver, but it’s disappointing to have back to back Finals where he failed to make an impact.
But when you step back and look at the bigger picture, the team shouldn’t be in a position where they are relying on Korver to be a top 3 contributor in their rotation. He isn’t being paid like that, and he wasn’t acquired to be that.
Korver was one of the few reliable options for the team in a tumultuous season. He went through personal trauma with the tragic loss of his brother late in the season, and always conducted himself with professionalism.
The acquisition of Korver during last season and the production the team received from him can’t be considered anything other than a success. The lack of production in the Finals has been disappointing, but they don’t get to that point without him. In addition to that, him shooting 100 percent from deep wasn’t going to be enough to bring a second title home to Cleveland.
With only $3.4 million guaranteed in the third year of his contract and the top-10 protection on the 2019 pick the Cavs gave up for him, Cleveland has managed Korver as an asset perfectly.
If LeBron leaves, Korver is an attractive rental for a team with the option to keep for a year or two. In addition to that, the Cavs would likely get their pick back. If LeBron stays, you can keep one of the greatest spot up shooters in league history around him.