The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to trade Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz, and somewhere, Danny Ainge is probably smiling.
And if he isn’t, he should be.
The news was broken by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
As the Celtics enter play on November 28 barely clinging to a winning record, the team has quietly (and publicly) wondered what’s gone awry. Their defense has played as well as should be reasonably expected, but their offense has been borderline atrocious.
On the other hand, the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks have looked truly fearsome, while the Philadelphia 76ers have made what could amount to a power-shifting trade by acquiring the disgruntled Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
So, what does the Korver trade have to do with the Celtics?
It’s simple: he won’t end up in Philadelphia.
For much of the past week, it’s become known that the Cavs are willing to sell their veteran parts. The team is going to be embarking on a rebuild and J.R. Smith was sent home as general manager Koby Altman attempts to find a deal to get him out of Cleveland.
Surprisingly, though, a deal was made for Korver first.
With Butler landing in Philadelphia and Markelle Fultz’s days with the Sixers apparently numbered, for general manager Elton Brand, the biggest issue in Philadelphia is the team’s overall lack of outside shooting.
Entering play on November 28, the Sixers rank 19th in the NBA in three-point percentage. That could obviously be worse, but the major issue with the Butler acquisition was that his placement with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid meant that the Sixers were featuring three players who were most effective with the ball in their hands.
Embiid and Butler are each respectable three-point shooters, but the real task for the Sixers was to find a fourth player that could play adequate on the defensive end while keeping opposing teams honest enough and the floor spaced enough to the point where the team’s trio could have the requisite space to operate.
With Sunday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets, the Sixers are 5-2 since acquiring Butler. Still, it’d be hard to argue that they wouldn’t have been a better team had they acquired Korver for a reasonable sum. That’s especially true since the team reportedly expressed interest in dealing Fultz to the Cavs in exchange for him.
Instead, the sharp shooter will pack his bags and head back to Utah, where he spent three seasons.
Make no mistake about it, as they continue to look up at the Sixers in the standings, that’s good news for Boston.