The reunion tour continues.
The Hawks play against three prominent former teammates in a week. Kyle Korver plays his first game against the Hawks as a member of the Cavaliers tonight. After four-plus years in Atlanta, the shooting guard was traded in January and prospered in Cleveland.
The Hawks played at against Al Horford and the Celtics on Monday and will play against Jeff Teague and the Pacers Sunday. The Hawks have faced Horford and Teague earlier this season. However, they get a glimpse of the recent past in six days. They made up three-fifths of the Hawks starting lineup in their 2014-15 run to 60 wins and a trip to the Eastern Conference finals.
“It always take a little time,” Korver said Friday morning of the adjustment after the shock of being traded. “There is always a lot of moving parts, moving a family across the country with little kids and get them settled. Almost more than anything else having them get settled helps you on the court. It’s a new system. It’s a much different style of play, obviously.
“I feel like in Atlanta I was searching shots out and coming off screens, moving around a lot. Here, I’m waiting for the ball to come to you, waiting for plays to evolve, rather than chasing shots. There is a bit of a mindset change with that.”
In 32 games with the Hawks this season, including 21 starts, Korver shot .441 from the field, .409 from 3-point range and averaged 9.5 points in 27.9 minutes. In 23 game with the Cavaliers, no starts, he has shot .505 from the field, .504 from 3-point range and averages 11.3 points in 25.9 minutes.
Does having LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on the same team help get open shots?
“Yes,” Korver said with a big smile.
His former teammates agree.
“When you are playing with two, three of the top 15 players in this league you are going to get wide-open shots,” Paul Millsap said. “For him, especially where he is in his career, I think that’s good for him.”
Korver is fifth all-time in NBA history in 3-pointer made with 2.018. He made 818 of them with the Hawks. He meant more to the Hawks than a 3-point specialist. He played a big part in changing the culture and dynamic of the team when Mike Budenholzer took over as coach four seasons ago.
“How important to our team and our organization and building a culture and a way of playing, it’s hard to put into words,” Budenholzer said. “He’s a great man, a great friend. He understands the decisions that are made in basketball. I think he and I will respect and be friends. (Friday) night, we’ll want to beat each other and we may talk before or after. He was huge for us. It’s hard to put into words.”
After arriving in Atlanta Thursday, Korver went to his house and visited with many people after he left abruptly following the trade. Budenholzer was one of those visitors. The family took his children to their old preschool to visit friends.
The Hawks are planning a tribute video to be played on the scoreboard to celebrate the fan favorite’s time in the city.
“I realized yesterday I have to think about it a little bit,” Korver said. “There is so much going on. I have to process this now so I’m not doing it during the game. I feel like it’s going to get yourself in trouble. Obviously, I have a lot of great friends and memories here. I’m sure a lot of that will come to the surface during the game. At the same time, it’s just another game, a regular-season game, and a game we want to win.”
Korver said he harbors no anger or bitterness toward the Hawks after the trade. He said he hopes for a positive reaction from the Philips Arena crowd.
Korver is an unrestricted free agent following the season. He was asked whether the Atlanta chapter of his career was over or would he consider a return if possible.
“I don’t know,” Korver said. “I haven’t answered a single question about free agency. I really feel like this is an incredible opportunity for me to be on a team that is contending for a championship. I’m 100 percent focused and committed on that. The summer, we’ll see what is available and what happens.”