NEW YORK -- Kyle Korver is joining the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, and they can't wait for him to start firing away. The Cavaliers' trade with the Atlanta Hawks hasn't been officially completed yet, but they know exactly what he will bring to the table. Before their shootaround for Friday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, a reporter asked LeBron James if Korver might increase his 40.9 3-point percentage in Cleveland.
"He will," James said definitively.
The reporter then mentioned Korver's 49-percent mark on wide-open 3s.
"They'll go higher than that, too," James said. "We're gonna get him the ball. He's on the floor for a reason. We're going to get it to him."
James brought up the great shooters he's played with in the past, rattling off about half of the Miami Heat's 2012-13 roster: "At one point in time I was throwing the ball to Ray [Allen], Mike Miller, James Jones, [Mario] Chalmers, [Chris] Bosh and [Shane] Battier. And Rashard Lewis." It won't exactly be an adjustment for him, then, when he's looking for Korver in lineups that also feature some combination of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Channing Frye, J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson spacing the floor.
The idea is for this environment to bring the best out of Korver. He has never played with a superstar who possesses James' passing ability, and he's coming from an Atlanta team that is 23rd in offensive efficiency largely because its spacing wasn't what it used to be. The mere threat of Korver shooting is enough to bend a defense. Coach Tyronn Lue said that opponents will have to pick their poison when he and Frye, last year's big midseason acquisition, are out there with James.
"It'll do a lot," Lue said. "Especially a guy who can move without the ball the way he moves coming off screens and things like that. I mean, there's no better guy -- him, Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson], I would say right now, [are the best at] coming off screens and being able to make shots and make plays."
James called Korver a "hell of a sharpshooter" and a "great professional," adding that he expects Korver will learn the Cavs' system quickly because he scouted it the last two years in the playoffs. At first at least, he will come off the bench -- Lue likes DeAndre Liggins' defensive versatility in the starting lineup -- but it's easy to imagine him playing himself into a starting role if he fits in as well as he should. While J.R. Smith is sidelined with his thumb injury, Korver addresses a glaring hole on the roster. When Smith returns, they can play together, and wing depth -- a luxury in today's NBA -- will suddenly be one of Cleveland's many strengths.
Love said he's "excited for some of those Korver screens, me and him," and he should be. Even at 35 years old, Korver is much more than a stand-still shooter. The Cavs should have him moving around and distracting defenders as much as possible, whether it's to get him open or to let one of the stars make a play for himself. Asked if he had any advice for the newcomer about playing with James, Love did not hesitate.
"Same thing we told Channing," Love said. "When you catch the ball, shoot it."