When talking about the league’s best players, you may not think of Kyle Korver, the 33-year-old Hawks swingman who’s best known for being a walking three-point shot. But Korver is in Las Vegas this week for Team USA tryouts, which even on a depleted roster is something of an honor. Plus, a new feature on Grantland runs down just how many times Korver has been traded for garbage, or pocket change — and how those who traded him came to regret it.
His first trade came on draft night in 2003:
With none of their preferred choices on the board, the Nets brass selected Creighton forward Kyle Korver with the 51st pick — and immediately sold his draft rights to the Sixers for $125,000. That covered [financing] summer league. With the leftover cash, the Nets bought a new copy machine.
How he even fell that far is anyone’s guess:
Multiple current GMs say passing on Korver in the draft ranks as one of the worst mistakes of their respective careers.
Then it was Philadelphia’s turn to inexplicably trade him, this time to give minutes to a guy no one is writing long profiles about:
Maurice Cheeks, Korver’s last coach in Philadelphia, still remembers driving into the Sacramento arena parking lot in late 2007 when Ed Stefanski, then Philly’s GM, called to tell him the Sixers were dealing the Californian (by way of Iowa). Cheeks could summon only one word, he says: “Why? Why? Why?”
The Sixers needed to open both cap space and minutes for Thaddeus Young, Stefanski recalls…
Utah had great success with him, but then they drafted another white guy who could shoot, and there’s a limit on how many of those you can have per team:
The Jazz finished 38-12 after landing Korver in exchange for Gordan Giricek and a first-round pick, but they let him walk to Chicago in free agency after drafting Gordon Hayward in 2010. “We loved him,” Sloan says, “but when we drafted Hayward, that cut down on his value here.”
Then Chicago had a turn, but they ended up making the same mistake as every team before them:
Korver became a key second-unit cog in Chicago, but the Bulls traded him to Atlanta for nothing but a trade exception in July 2012. Cheeks ran into Tom Thibodeau in Las Vegas during summer league, and the two quickly found themselves chatting about Korver’s value — and of the lingering regret in having lost him, Cheeks says.
Korver appears to have caught on, for now, in Atlanta, where he signed a four year, $24 million deal last summer, and according to the profile has flourished in an offense designed to get him open, where a “stationary” three for him is about as valuable as a layup. The whole thing is worth a read, but if you’re a Nets, Sixers, Jazz or Bulls fan, you might not be too pleased with your team by the end of it.
Especially the Nets. Traded him to finance summer league? Just how broke were you guys?
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