Mike Dunleavy has yet to report to the Atlanta Hawks and is reportedly seeking a buyout so he can hit free agency, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Dunleavy, 35, was sent to the Hawks — along with Mo Williams and a protected 2019 first-round pick — in a Saturday trade sending sharpshooting veteran Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite Dunleavy’s wishes, the Hawks are interested in retaining the veteran’s services, especially considering his team-friendly salary for this season ($4.9 million) and partially guaranteed salary for 2017-2018 ($5.9 million).
Williams, 34, has not played this season and has essentially retired following October surgery to remove bone spurs from the joint of the tibia and fibula in his left leg. However, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said Saturday after Hawks shootaround that he’s excited for Dunleavy to bring his veteran presence.
“We’ll bring him in, I think he’s got the type of game and a skill set that I think he could be very good playing for us,” he said. “We’ll just have to see how he is, integrate him, continue to build. He’s a player who we’ve liked, and personally I’ve liked, for a long time. We’ll see how he fits into our mix.”
Stein noted that both sides were “working through” the contractual dispute. However, since Dunleavy has not yet taken his physical, Korver — who is with the Cavaliers for their Sunday night matchup against the Phoenix Suns — cannot play or watch the game from the bench.
In 23 games with the Cavaliers, Dunleavy averaged 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds. In his 15-year NBA career, the Duke University product has averaged 11.4 points, 4.3 points for the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, and Cavaliers.
This is an unexpected development for a Hawks team that decided to part ways with the veteran Korver. The 35-year-old spent the last four-and-a-half seasons in Atlanta, making an Eastern Conference All-Star team in 2014-15 and shooting.452 percent from three-point range.
In 32 games this season, Korver averaged 9.5 points while shooting his typically solid 41 percent from three-point range.
“We are incredibly grateful to Kyle for his contributions to the Hawks over the last five years,” Budenholzer said in a statement on Saturday. “He is a professional in every sense of the word and played a significant part in establishing our culture and in the success this franchise has seen. This is a difficult decision, but one we felt was in the best interest of the organization.”
Korver expressed similar sentiments on Thursday when news of Cavaliers’ intention to acquire him spread.
“There are definitely mixed emotions,” Korver said (via AJC.com). “There are a lot of hard ties to Atlanta, for a lot of reasons. A lot of friendships, relationships. This is where I had my best basketball career, honestly. This is where I had all my kids. It’s hard to leave that behind. Obviously, it’s a great opportunity for me in Cleveland. So I’m very excited about that part of it. There are a lot of relationships that I care a lot for here and that I’m going to miss.”
However, Korver acknowledged that joining the defending NBA champion Cavaliers is a “great opportunity.” The Cavaliers are one of the NBA’s prolific three-point shooting teams, and Korver is shooting 49 percent on wide-open treys.
Korver’s new teammate, LeBron James, declared that number will improve
“They’ll go higher than that, too,” James said in response to Korver’s wide-opening three-point shooting via CBS Sports. “We’re gonna get him the ball. He’s on the floor for a reason. We’re going to get it to him.”
Until the Dunleavy situation is resolved, however, Cleveland will continue to play short-handed.
[Featured Image by AP Images/Ron Schwane]