Kyle Korver trade, now official, is another home run for Cavs GM David Griffin
Cleveland's front office keeps finding ways to improve the team midseason
NEW YORK -- Channing Frye knows how dangerous Kyle Korver can be. When preparing to play the Atlanta Hawks the last few seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers were always aware that he could change games quickly. A couple of quick 3s, and you can go from being down two points to being down eight. You lose track of him in transition, and you're toast.
"I know our scouting report for him was pretty serious," Frye said before Cleveland's 116-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. "It was pretty extensive anytime we played him."
The Cavs won't have to play him anymore. Their latest move, made official on Saturday afternoon, brings Korver to Cleveland in exchange for a protected 2019 first-round pick, guard Mo Williams and swingman Mike Dunleavy. The Hawks' front office, focused on rebuilding, are probably happy to get a late first for a 35-year-old soon-to-be free agent. From the perspective of the defending champs, though, this is a home run.
"A lot," Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving said of what Korver will provide. "A lot of opportunities for him to be more open than he was in Atlanta. No disrespect to them, but for us, we just have continuity in our offense and guys that can make the plays, that are willing to give up the basketball. [With the] unselfish brand of basketball we play, I can only imagine him coming off those pindowns, and whether he's open or not, we're telling him to shoot it. Every shooter that comes here, we tell him. Bron's statement: if a guy's not in your numbers, then you're open. I know he'll pretty much enjoy that."
The Cavaliers' roster now barely resembles the one that LeBron James joined in the summer of 2014. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson are still around, of course, but the only other member of that opening-night roster who remains is swingman James Jones. There were all sorts of questions around that team at first -- how would Dion Waiters fit in? Would veterans Shawn Marion and Mike Miller have anything left to give them? Was there enough athleticism or enough shooting surrounding the Big 3?
These questions are comical now. For three straight years, with almost no financial flexibility, Cleveland's front office has improved the team midseason. On Jan. 5, 2015, general manager David Griffin traded Waiters, Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk and a second-round pick to get J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the New York Knicks on Jan. 5, 2015. Two days later, the Cavs traded two first-round picks to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Timofey Mozgov. This turned around their season, and they managed to get to the NBA Finals despite Kevin Love getting injured in the first round of the playoffs.
"Sheeeeit," Frye laughs when asked about his reaction to the trade. "For me, I was ecstatic 'cause now it's like, OK, who are you going to stunt to? We have guys that go downhill. We have three or four guys that really go downhill, so there will be no more double-teams. I mean, that paint is going to be wide open."
In Korver, Cleveland has acquired a player who fills an immediate need because of Smith's injury. He also makes them deeper and better equipped to withstand potential injuries in the playoffs. Every general manager would love to have the superstars that the Cavs employ, but that doesn't mean Griffin's job is easy. Last summer, he couldn't keep Matthew Dellavedova or Mozgov because of financial concerns. They are still searching for a backup point guard.
Frye said it took him about a month to get comfortable in Cleveland last year, so it's fortunate that this move was made earlier. He also said Korver and J.J. Redick are the only players he can think of who can draw a double-team without the ball, coming off screens. Part of Frye's adjustment was "getting used to being so open," Frye said, adding, "hopefully [Korver] doesn't get jelly of how wet my jumper is." To say the team is excited about the new addition would be an understatement.
"Nobody understands it until they have to guard him," Frye said. "I think they're like, oh, he's just a shooter. But he does so much more than that. I think he allows everyone to be more simple with his energy and with his movement. I think the biggest thing that's crazy is, like, I've been a game where he might have gone 0-for-4 and then 6-for-9 in the next quarter. There's no, 'Oh, I'm missing a couple of shots" mentality. It's like, I'm just going to make the next 10. And that's what we needed on this team. Even if you miss two or three, shoot the next 15. You have to be ruthless out there."
Griffin, too, has had to be ruthless in the way he has constructed this roster. As soon as James arrived, the front office had a responsibility to put the proper pieces around him. Griffin built a title-winning roster by the second season, and now he has made it even better.
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