INDEPENDENCE — When the NBA Finals ended, Kyle Korver had reached his limit with basketball.
Korver’s 27-year-old brother Kirk died of a sudden illness in March and even though Korver was given more than a week away from the team, he was overcome with grief the rest of the season. The 37-year-old Cavs guard admitted Monday he spent part of the summer mulling retirement.
At Cavs media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts, he apologized for leaving quickly after the Cavs were swept in four games by the Golden State Warriors.
“I didn’t talk to anybody after the last game, kind of just walked out, wasn’t very professional of me. I apologize to all you guys who were there. [I] would have liked to have said, ‘Thank you,’” Korver said. “But I was just really ... I was done.”
As he pondered his future, Korver talked his wife, Juliet, with whom he has two children, his parents and two brothers to try to “get a feel for where they’re at in life.”
“I took a good chunk of time and got away from the game and evaluated a lot of things and tried to decide if I still had the desire to play,” Korver said. “After doing all that I felt like I wanted to come back, I still wanted to play. I still love the game. I’m excited to be back.
“I need to have the blessing of my wife and family. The older I get, there’s a family cost to continuing to play. Once I felt my family was in a spot even though we went through what we went through, ‘We’re good, we can keep going,’ that gave me the freedom to decide for myself whether I still loved the game or not, if I wanted to put the work in, whether I had the desire. I didn’t want to just come here and be around — I want to work and play well and make shots and win games.”
Hood hopes to stay
Restricted free agent Rodney Hood signed his one-year qualifying offer of $3.4 million on Sept. 10, though he’d hoped for more lucrative contract. Despite that, Hood, 25, said he would like to remain with the Cavs past this season.
“Oh, yeah,” Hood said. “During the playoffs was my first time getting out in the community and seeing people. That’s a big plus for me. I’ve got a growing family, somewhere I can feel comfortable and my wife feels comfortable. Basketball-wise I feel good here — I like my teammates, the coaching staff. I got off to a little bit of a bumpy start, which happens anywhere, but I can see myself being here long term.”
Acquired from the Utah Jazz at the Feb. 8 trade deadline, Hood averaged 10.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 21 games with the Cavs. In 17 playoff games, he averaged just 5.4 points and shot .167 from 3-point range. That was quite a slip from the 16.8 points he posted in 39 games for the Jazz in 2017-18.
Hood said his mother helped him rediscover the joy of the game, and he looks forward to what could be an expanded role this season.
“Getting back to myself, being a scorer, being aggressive, just being a different player than I was the past few months when I was here,” Hood said. “Introducing myself to Cavs fans, I’m excited about that.”
Clearing it up
Larry Nance Jr. clarified conflicting media reports on whether he married longtime girlfriend Hailey Pince at the Summit Country Courthouse or during a small ceremony on July 17 in Maui, Hawaii. He said legally they became husband and wife in downtown Akron.
“I was wearing like Lululemon pants and my Yeezys,” he said of their stop at the courthouse. “You’ve got to go and do the legal stuff. We were going to be in Hawaii for such a short time that we didn’t want to ... spend a whole day in the courtroom and waste a day in Hawaii. So on our four-year anniversary we decided, ‘Let’s just go to the courthouse, get the legal stuff done, it will be nothing, we’ll go out to breakfast afterwards, just kinda of hush, hush.’ A month later we had our real ceremony in Hawaii.”
In the trade brouhaha and subsequent playoff run, getting a handle on the personalities of the Cavs additions, including Nance, was not on the top of anyone’s list. At media day, however, his sense of humor was on full display.
As he took the podium under his father’s jersey number hanging in the rafters of Cleveland Clinic Courts, Nance was asked how it felt to sit directly beneath it.
“Whose banner?” he deadpanned. “Oh, no, it’s an honor to be underneath Mark Price’s jersey.”
He did answer the question sincerely in his next statement.
“It’s surreal,” he said. “This is something you secretly dream about, even in college, even with the Lakers, you’re just kind of like, 'That would be pretty cool if I could get to play back home.'"
He wasn’t done with the moments of levity, however. When asked whether he shared his father’s love of drag racing.
“No, I’m sane,” he said before talking about his father's hobby, which he does competitively.
“He’s still got his 1967 Camaro,” he said. “He claims it’s street legal, but it’s got like thousands of horsepower in it. There’s no chance. No, I have no interest in that. I really like watching him do it.”
His own path
It’s clear that rookie point guard and first-round draft choice Collin Sexton, who the Cavs selected No. 8 overall out of Alabama, wants to make his mark on the NBA.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Sexton was asked about wearing No. 2 on his jersey, a year after the trade of former standout point guard Kyrie Irving, who also had that uniform number.
"I’m not following nobody’s footsteps,” Sexton said. “I’m going to come in and play my style of game. And Kyrie did wear No. 2, but Mo Williams, a fellow Alabamian, did wear No. 2 also.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ. George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs.