Most Hawks fans could not believe what they were hearing when news broke that Kyle Korver had been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The sharpshooting fan favorite was one of the remaining pieces from one of the best Hawks teams in franchise history. This move is a tough one to swallow, mostly because of the trade partner. The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team in the Hawks’ way of making the NBA Finals, but it is clearly easier said than done. Adding Korver alongside the likes of Lebron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love will be a fun lineup to watch score the ball… until it is time to play Atlanta.
However, as talented as Korver is, it is unlikely that he makes or breaks a Hawks-Cavs series. In other words, having Korver on one side or another will not determine a playoff series between the two teams. Korver is likely to see a reduced role come playoff time when J.R. Smith is healthy.
As far as Atlanta is concerned, this opens up playing time for the young wings and guards the Hawks have at their disposal, especially Tim Hardaway Jr. The former Michigan star struggled to even log minutes in his first year with Atlanta after struggling to learn the defensive rotations. Hardaway is now playing team defense, has become adjusted to Coach Bud’s system, and gives the Hawks the type of hot and cold, off the dribble scorer they have lacked since Lou Williams.
Hardaway’s strides are a huge reason why it is essential to get the likes of Taurean Prince and Deandre Bembry playing time. Dennis Schroder did not play much as a rookie, but has made strides nevertheless. The acquisition of Mike Dunleavy in this deal still means there is a logjam on the wing, but one could assume he likely will not have as big of a role as Korver did with the team. This is not to say he will not help the team. Dunleavy has looked great so far in a Hawks uniform. He has actually shot the three ball at a similar rate to Korver over the past two seasons.
The real reason this move is good for the team is obviously the future first-round pick. While it is certainly down the road and protected, it is a first rounder nonetheless, another quality player who can become a project for Coach Bud.
The Hawks continue to win, and while it hurt sending a fan favorite to an arch enemy, the truth is that Korver is not what he was when he was an All-Star two seasons ago, and due to father time, he never will be again. He is a great role player to have in the NBA and will help Cleveland, but getting a first-rounder for half a season of him is a steal, especially if they were not planning on signing him in the offseason.
At the end of the day, Korver is in a situation where he can win a ring, and the Hawks retool towards their future. Let’s be real, the only reason the deal sucks is it is because it was with Cleveland. However, don’t forget, they now have two first rounders in 2018 and their choice of 2019/20. It all boils down as to whether these teams meet criteria for the pick protection as to when the Hawks will get them, but the Hawks will have multiple chances to try to draft impact players to strengthen what is already a strong core being built around Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder.