This is not the fun part. This is when you start to see the Hawks turn their attention away from this season and focus on the future, even if the soundbites emanating from the organization won't suggest anything of the sort because that would just be ... not good for ticket sales.
There goes Kyle Korver.
The Hawks are trading their best three-point shooter and starting two guard for most of the last five seasons to the Cleveland Cavaliers. There Hawks reportedly will receive a 2019 protected first-round pick and Mike Dunleavy in deal, according to reports. The Hawks are expected to move Dunleavy to a third team.
UPDATE: The trade is still not finalized, but according to the AJC's Chris Vivlamore: "... As it currently stands, according to a person familiar with the situation, in exchange for Korver the Hawks will get a protected first-round draft pick (Nos. 11-30) in 2019. The pick will move to a 2020 protected pick if it does not convey in 2019. Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Mo Williams will also come to the Hawks as part of the deal. To make room for two players, the Hawks must open a roster spot. They are expected to waive Ryan Kelly. ... The Hawks have spoken to multiple teams about Dunleavy and it is possible the guard/forward could be traded to another team. He could also remain with the Hawks who will have essentially traded Korver for Dunleavy and a first-round pick."
Think: Almost any Braves trade from the last two years.
Korver said after Thursday's game at New Orleans that he has "a lot of mixed emotions" about the trade and will be leaving behind "a lot of relationships."
But he added, "Obviously, going to Cleveland is a great opportunity for me."
This was about as nice a thing as the Hawks could have done for Korver, assuming they were going to trade him. It puts him in a position to win his first NBA championship with LeBron James and the Cavaliers. (The Cavaliers have swept the Hawks out of the playoffs in the last two seasons.) Korver turns 36 in March and he's in his 14th season.
On a personal note, I hate this. Korver is one of the most thoughtful and professional athletes I've come across. He has been one the leaders in the locker room since former general manager Danny Ferry acquired him from from Chicago in 2012 for "cash considerations." When Ferry signed Korver to a four-year extension after the 2012-13 season, some might have thought the deal was a bit too long for a player of Korver's age, but it proved to be a great deal.
But from a basketball perspective, a deal makes sense. The Hawks were on a four-game winning streak following Wednesday's win in Orlando but their 19-16 record did not suggest to the front office, including coach and team president Mike Budenholzer, that the team was on track to do anything special in the playoffs. Korver was in the final year of his contract (just over $5.2 million) and was not going to be re-signed.
I was among those who spoke to Korver and Paul Millsap after Tuesday's workouts about the potential of being traded, and Korver said, "Last year there was all this talk and nothing happened. Who knows? We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. The Hawks are going to do what is best for them."
I wrote Tuesday that it wouldn't be surprising to see the Hawks begin the rebuilding process now and that dealing Millsap, who is coveted by contenders like Toronto, Boston and Oklahoma City, could bring back valuable assets.
The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 23. But the Hawks have decided not to wait that long.
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