With the Cleveland Cavaliers apparently accepting a full transition to rebuilding, it was only a matter of time until we saw one of their veteran pieces moved. On Wednesday the first domino fell, as the Cavs agreed to send 37-year-old sharpshooter Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Alec Burks, along with second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
After a torrid finish to last season, including a trip to the Western Conference semifinals, the Jazz began 2018-19 with lofty expectations. So far, however, they've fallen woefully short. They entered Wednesday night with a 9-12 record, putting them 14th out of 15 teams in the conference. There was plenty of interest around Korver -- the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers reportedly had their eyes on him -- but instead he will return to Utah, where he spent two and a half seasons from 2007-2010.
Here's a recap of the deal, and trade grades for each team.
- 2020 second-round draft pick
- 2021 second-round draft pick (via Washington)
Utah Jazz trade grade: B+
This is a trade that needed to be made for the sake of Utah's season. They have the second-worst record in the Western Conference, just a season removed from advancing to the second round of the playoffs. One of their biggest problems is a lack of shooting, which is evident from their 3-point percentage (31.9 percent, second worst in the league) and their 3-point field goals made per game (10.1 per game, 23rd in the league).
Acquiring Korver doesn't automatically close the gap on the elite teams of the conference and it doesn't solve the fact that they don't have anybody outside of Donovan Mitchell really adept at dribble penetration. However, Korver will improve their shooting, which should result in better offense and more wins.
Furthermore, the Jazz saved $3 million in cap space for this season and created a $4 million trade exception with the deal, as detailed by Albert Nahmad.
When you factor in that they filled a shooting need by merely giving up two second-round draft picks and a player who didn't seem to have a future in Utah beyond this season, this is mostly a win for the Jazz.
The question is, does this acquisition make them better than they were last year? The answer to that is no.
Cleveland Cavaliers trade grade: A-
If you're wondering why the Cavaliers have a higher grade than the Jazz on this deal, it's because they took a 37-year-old asset who clearly played no role in their future plans and managed to turn him into draft picks and a quality 27-year-old role player. The fact that the Cavaliers were able to acquire a role player and draft picks rather than being forced to buy out Korver is an obvious win.
It was clear before the season started that Korver was no longer a fit on this Cavaliers squad after the departure of LeBron James. Without having the dribble penetration abilities of LeBron, Korver's value was severely diminished on a team that had started the season 4-15. The Cavaliers can now further their rebuild after acquiring assets for a veteran who had two years left on his deal.
The most important thing to take from this trade is that the Cavaliers acquired something of substance. They didn't buy out Korver, they didn't let his contract expire and they didn't trade him for peanuts.
Simply put, that is a win for Koby Altman and the Cavaliers.