CLEVELAND — Kyle Korver isn’t looking for vengeance as he prepares to re-enter Quicken Loans Arena in a Utah Jazz uniform.
Fans attending Friday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers shouldn’t expect to see Korver trying to perform in some villain role. That certainly isn’t the case.
Despite being traded from Cleveland to Utah for Alec Burks and two future second-round picks a little over a month ago, the 37-year-old sharpshooter remains appreciative for the little over two seasons he played as a Cavalier.
“Some people come back with a chip on their shoulder and feel like they’ve got to give it to the other team but it’s not going to be like that for me,” Korver admitted. “Just a lot of gratitude for the time I had there.”
Korver’s run in Cleveland included two trips to the NBA Finals alongside LeBron James, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors. Experiencing that amount of success, even later in his career, is still special for the sharpshooter.
“The first time you go back to a team it’s always a little bit emotional,” said Korver, currently in his 16th season. “I was part of a couple good runs there in Cleveland and we got to play a couple great teams in a couple trips to the finals.
“I’m sure I’ll think about that once I walk back in the arena in Cleveland,” he continued. “It’s always a challenge to not let that speed you up too much, just play your game so yeah, that’s always a bit emotional and that’s what it is when you go back.”
Utah is 7-8 since acquiring Korver via trade and has won four of their last seven games. Korver is averaging 8.9 points while shooting 39.8 percent from beyond the arc in his second tenure as a Jazzman as he’s still adjusting to his new squad. His off the ball movement and ability to catch and shoot is having an effect on teammates but he hasn’t been lights out every night, either.
Kover went 1 of 4 from beyond the arc with three points in the Jazz’s most recent 122-116 loss at Toronto on New Year's Day, but he remains professional through the highs and lows. Especially in a brand new locker room from the one he left in his first stint in Salt Lake City from 2007-10.
“It’s amazing how as a player, especially in the NBA, you’re engaged and you’re all in on a team and an organization and a city and it’s like all you think about, all day long,” Korver explained. “You’re 100 percent giving yourself to the city, the organization, the coaching staff and then like that you’ve got to shift to a whole new set of teammates and coaching staff and organization and city and you have to just do it.
“You don’t get six months to transition, you get a day or to so I don’t know if there’s anything in the world where you have to transition this quickly, this deeply,” he said. “I’m sure there is but at the top of my head, I can’t think of anything.”
Utah (18-20) has dropped five of its last six games on the road and is now 10-12 on the road this season after falling to Toronto. However, the Jazz will try to turn it around in Cleveland during the second stop of a four-game trip away from home.1 comment on this story
Korver isn’t the only Jazzman with a connection to the Cavaliers, as Jae Crowder also played in 53 games for the franchise in 2017-18 before getting traded to Utah in the three-team deal that included Rodney Hood.
Both Hood and Burks will be going up against Utah for the first time in their careers. So, although Korver can’t speak for everyone connected to these franchises, he says he’ll try and treat this as normal as possible.
“It is something,” Korver said. “It’s one thing if you have a bunch of bad experiences somewhere, but I had a bunch of great experiences in Cleveland with the Finals runs and it was a lot of good.”