CHARLOTTE — A boatload of missed calls and text messages flooded Kyle Korver’s phone when he awoke from his pregame nap in Oklahoma City Wednesday.
Some were from his agent, Jeff Schwartz, and Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman, so he suspected something important had just happened.
After returning the calls, he learned that he was involved in a trade from Cleveland to Utah, in exchange for Alec Burks and two future second-round draft picks.
Meanwhile, Burks was also informing his Jazz teammates in the locker room nearly 1,500 miles away in Brooklyn, New York, before the Jazz’s tipoff versus the Nets.
So, instead of suiting up that night for the Cavaliers in Oklahoma City, Korver scheduled a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, on the eve of the Jazz-Hornets matchup. He arrived Thursday for a physical exam, then joined the team for Friday’s shootaround before beginning his second stint with the Jazz.
“I think for me just where I’m at in life, I’ve gotten married with three young kids, so just being somewhere where there’s familiarity is a huge deal so to come back,” said Korver, who previously played for Utah from 2007-10. “Knowing that we’ve got a lot of people in Utah in the organization but also outside of it has just kind of helped soften the landing for us, so that’s important to me but then also to come to a good basketball team.”
Korver, 37, wasn’t completely surprised by the trade. The Cavaliers' front office was up front about him possibly being moved early in the season, so he was waiting for a deal to happen. He even submitted a list of teams as preferred destinations, with Utah being one of them.
“It feels like a good fit,” Korver said.
Burks was also excited to begin a new chapter of his career with an opportunity for more consistent minutes because Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s rotation wasn’t working in his favor with 15.8 minutes per game. The move certainly shocked some of the Jazz players, with Burks being well liked in the locker room, but the addition of a sharpshooter like Korver also creates more opportunities, even at age 37.
Korver is shooting 46.3 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 6.8 points and 1.8 rebounds in his 16th season. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey joked that Joe Ingles — who boldly declared himself as the league’s top shooter during the preseason — is no longer the best marksman on the roster.
“I’ve been greatly offended by Joe Ingles’ claim to be the greatest shooter on the planet. and as a proud American, that is comparing himself to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and Kyle Korver, I was offended,” Lindsey said. “So, I wanted to make sure that not only he realizes that he’s not the best shooter in the world with his as I describe it leverage arm, Aussie slingshot that he’s trying to shoot balloons in the Australian circus, that he’s no longer even the best shooter on the Utah Jazz. That was my No. 1 deal is to make sure that Ingles is now No. 2 as a shooter.”
Ingles couldn’t help but laugh when learning about Lindsey’s comments after shootaround. They regularly joke with each other, so the snark humor didn’t surprise or offend him. Ingles is currently shooting 38.5 percent from behind the 3-point line while averaging a career-best 12.8 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds, but Korver is one of only three players in NBA history to hit over 2,000 3-point field goals on better than 40 percent from beyond the arc in his career. Curry and Ray Allen are the two others on that list.
“Now we’ve got the two best shooters, it’s all good,” Ingles said.
Once Korver joined the Jazz in Charlotte, the scene wasn’t completely unfamiliar. Snyder was an assistant for Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer in 2013-14 when Korver played in Atlanta, while Jae Crowder and Thabo Sefolosha were former teammates in Cleveland and Atlanta.3 comments on this story
The Korver-Burks trade got approved by the league on Thursday afternoon once both players passed their physicals, but they needed trade certifications and signed documents early Friday before Korver attended shootaround. The process was expedited to make him available for the Jazz-Hornets game, and he couldn’t be any happier with things being so hectic the past couple days.
“It’s like you’re the new kid at school and you want to get to know everyone and you’ve got to kind of find your way a little bit, but I knew a lot of people in the organization and coaching staff, so that’s helpful,” Korver explained.