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Korver to come off bench with Cavs; LeBron James still pushing for another point guard

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 6, 2017

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NEW YORK: The Cavaliers cleaned up some bookkeeping matters with the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, clearing the way for Kyle Korver to come to Cleveland.

Mo Williams is joining Mike Dunleavy in the trade to the Atlanta Hawks, multiple sources confirmed to the Beacon Journal. Williams’ inclusion will cut payroll while freeing up a much-needed roster spot

The Cavs traded the Blazers their unprotected pick in the 2017 draft Friday in exchange for getting back the 2018 pick they sent away as compensation for Portland taking on Anderson Varejao’s contract at last year’s trade deadline. At the time, league rules prevented Cavs General Manager David Griffin from trading his ’17 pick.  

The collective-bargaining agreement not only prohibits teams from trading away first-round picks in consecutive years, it also limits how far out teams can trade to seven years. Since this is the 2016-17 season, for example, the Cavs can only trade first-round picks until 2023.

Before making the deal with the Blazers Friday to swap picks, the “seven year rule” would’ve required the Cavs to leave their draft picks unprotected in both 2020 and 2022 if they traded them away today. Since LeBron James can be a free agent in the summer of 2019 and both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love can be free agents in 2020, leaving picks completely unprotected in 2020 and 2022 is not the best long-term business plan.

By making this subtle move with Portland, Griffin has freed up his 2019 and 2021 picks to be included in trades. The ’19 pick is headed to Atlanta for Korver and by all indications, the Cavs are poised to send their ’21 out in another deal soon – perhaps for either a big or a point guard.

The Hawks could’ve held firm and demanded the 2020 pick instead, given James’ ability to leave in ’19. By waiting an extra year, the ’20 pick may ultimately have more value. One source with knowledge of the Hawks’ thinking confirmed that option was considered, but the Hawks are instead choosing to receive the pick a year sooner.

Williams’ inclusion in the deal reduces the Cavs’ payroll and frees up a much-needed roster spot since both he and Chris “Birdman” Andersen are dead weights. Williams is essentially retired and Andersen, out for the season following a torn ACL, is not part of the deal with the Hawks, two sources confirmed.

While adding another shooter to replace the injured J.R. Smith is nice, James’ focus hasn’t changed. The roster isn’t championship-ready until they add another point guard. 

“We still got a couple more things we need to do,” James said Friday. “We got to get a point guard. It’s my last time saying it. We need a point guard.

“I think that’s the next step. You look at our league, most teams have three point guards. We only have two with Ky and our rook in Kay (Felder). I think just having that security blanket. Every NFL team has three quarterbacks. Having that security blanket in case of a (Derek) Carr. We’ll see what happens, but, we’re happy with our team right now.”

Carr, of course, is the Oakland Raiders quarterback who is out with a broken leg.

Coach Tyronn Lue said Korver will come off the bench and DeAndre Liggins will remain a starter because Lue likes the way Liggins defends opposing point guards. Lue called Korver one of the league’s three best shooters when coming off screens, grouping him with the Warriors’ tandem of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

“Especially a guy who can move without the ball the way he moves coming off screens and things like that, there’s no better guy,” Lue said. “You put him on the floor with Channing (Frye), RJ (Richard Jefferson), LeBron and the floor will open wide, so now you got to pick your poison when you try to help off Kyrie and LeBron.”

Dunleavy flew with the team to New York, but did not attend Friday’s game against the Nets. The Cavs perhaps wouldn’t have made this trade if Dunleavy wasn’t such a disappointment this season. They acquired him last summer for essentially the price of some CBA magic and a manufactured trade exception, but now Dunleavy is enduring one of the worst seasons of his career.

He’s averaging a career-low 4.6 points and shooting his worst percentage on 3-pointers in seven years. He quickly fell out of Lue’s rotation earlier this season. Lue said Dunleavy’s cut in minutes, among other reasons, is why he struggled to fit.

“We really didn’t run the same movement stuff for him that Chicago ran for him and he didn’t really get a chance to really fit and blend in,” Lue said. “And that was on me, on us, but that’s just how our team is constructed. And it wasn’t fair to him but he’s a great professional. … I just thought he never really got a great rhythm on our team.”

Korver is shooting 41 percent from 3 this season, a tick below his 43-percent career mark. He’s shooting 49 percent on wide-open 3s this season when the nearest defender is at least 6 feet away.

“They’ll go higher than that, too,” James said of Korver’s percentages. “We’re going to get him the ball. He’s on the floor for a reason and we’re going to get it to him.”

Kevin Love laughed when asked what advice he’d give Korver about playing alongside James.

“Same thing we told Channing,” Love said. “When you catch the ball, shoot it.”

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