Although the deal has yet to be finalized, ESPN reported on Wednesday evening that veteran forward and guard Kyle Korver was traded to the Utah Jazz. The Cleveland Cavaliers are apparently set to receive backup shooting guard Alec Burks and two future second-round picks in return. A new report, however, suggests that the trade might have been in the works for some time, due to an agreement which the 37-year-old Korver had with the Cavs when he re-signed with the team in 2017.
On Thursday, Bleacher Report cited an article from The Athletic‘s Joe Vardon, one which claimed that Korver was traded as part of a “gentleman’s agreement” he had with Cleveland’s management during contract negotiations last year. Per Vardon, Korver re-signed with the Cavaliers in July of 2017 for three years and $22 million — but also requested that he be traded, or bought out, in the event that LeBron James would leave Cleveland as a free agent in the 2018 offseason.
As James ultimately decided to sign a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in July, Bleacher Report noted that it took some time for the Cavaliers to honor the gentleman’s agreement. They ultimately did so on Wednesday, after finding a suitable trade partner in the Utah Jazz.
ESPN story on Jazz acquiring Cavaliers guard Kyle Korver, one of the most coveted players on early-season trade market. https://t.co/R8HsH8bGZK— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 28, 2018
In addition to detailing the agreement that Kyle Korver supposedly had with the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, Vardon also alleged that multiple Cavaliers players were “upset” about the impending departure of Korver — who was a key contributor to the team as a three-point-shooting specialist. Vardon did not name any specific players in his report, but veteran big man Tristan Thompson was quoted as saying that he understands how the “business” of the NBA works — it’s possible for anyone to get traded.
“If the trade is right and it adds up, then someone can get moved unless you have a no-trade clause,” said Thompson.
“I don’t know who has that. So the only two guys that are safe in the NBA are [LeBron James] and Steph Curry. Everyone else, you can be moved. All you can do is control what you can control. Come in, play hard every day, do your job, and don’t get in trouble.”
As further pointed out by Bleacher Report, Kyle Korver’s trade is another sign that the Cleveland Cavaliers, who currently sit at last place in the NBA with a 4-16 record, are in “clear rebuild mode.” Last month, the Cavaliers fired head coach Tyronn Lue after a 0-6 start, amidst alleged disagreements which he had with the team over the allocation of minutes. Earlier in November, the team released a statement on the NBA website confirming that J.R. Smith would be stepping away from the Cavs, with rumors suggesting that the veteran guard was unhappy in Cleveland — and was seeking a trade.