Video Breakdown: How Kyle Korver helps LeBron James and the Cavaliers

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Kyle Korver is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers finalized the deal on Saturday, sending the sharp-shooting wing to Ohio in exchange for Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, and a protected first round pick.

Korver is added firepower for the 2016 NBA Champions, who are hoping to repeat and stay their ground against the Golden State Warriors, who added a guy by the name of Kevin Durant this offseason.

On today’s NBA Playbook, we’re taking a look at what Korver does best and how LeBron James and the Cavaliers will integrate him into their already impressive offense.

Watch the full video breakdown above or read the text version below.

The Basics

Korver is a great addition for Cleveland’s championship hopes, and the trade should help push the Cavaliers forward. Korver is shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point land this season, and his ability to space the floor is unquestioned.

shotcharts korver

Comparing his shot chart here on the left with the Cavaliers overall team chart on the right, you can see that he takes a high volume and shoots exceptionally well on above the break threes from the left and right sides. Conveniently, that’s already where the Cavs shoot the majority of their 3-pointers from.

From a distribution standpoint, Korver makes a lot of sense. There’s also some similarities between sets the Hawks ran for him and those the Cavaliers already have in their playbook.

The Sets

Atlanta ran a lot of single and double screen sets with Korver starting down in the corner. He rounds the arc off a dribble handoff from a post, and gets a simple shot above the break.

Cleveland runs this same set, as you can see here with Mike Dunleavy down in the corner and Channing Frye as the handoff man.

That kind of movement is likely to be important for Cleveland not just in their set offense, but in transition where they are one of the best teams in the league off the break.

Transition

Because of the gravity of guys like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers shooters can feast in transition.

Look for Korver to get to the wing in transition like he does here, then make that same cut across the arc we saw in the set play above.

Korver should be extremely useful on the break. His quick release, willingness to run to the corners, and understanding about how to use drag screens and find open parts of the floor in secondary transition is going to make the Cavaliers that much harder to cover as LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and even Kevin Love bring the ball up the floor.

Offensive Rebounding Chances

One of my favorite things about this trade is the high basketball IQ the Cavaliers have and how Korver is going to amplify that. Something to watch out for is how much Korver affects the efficiency of Cleveland’s offensive rebounding chances.

If you watch enough tape of Korver, you’ll see him smartly move to the right part of the floor when his team misses, turning extra opportunities into three points.

The Cavaliers are already a good rebounding team, and they like to exploit opportunities similar to the one Korver does above with guys like Kevin Love and Channing Frye. With Korver in the mix, it might be even more critical to keep Cleveland off the offensive glass.

Opening Up the Floor

There’s a lot of talk about all the opportunities the Cavaliers are going to open up for Korver, and that’s correct. But what I’m looking forward to is how Korver opens up space for his teammates.

When you have a multiple-player screen situation like you’ve got going on above, personnel matters. You’ve got three Toronto Raptors defending Frye, Dunleavy, and Iman Shumpert, who are all threats to score from range.

Kyle Lowry calls out a switch, but Terrence Ross is so afraid of Dunleavy going over the pick that he tries to lock and trail. That’s the position Korver will be in for the Cavaliers.

Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam can’t sag off of Frye, but when Shumpert slips the screen because everyone is playing high, it forces the Raptors big man to play help. Of course, that leaves Frye open at the wing, and it all started because nobody wanted to let Dunleavy shoot from deep.

Wrapping Up

Adding Korver to a team that’s already a good offensive and 3-point shooting team is an excellent move for the Cavs, and when JR Smith is back from injury it’s going to be that much better.

Korver makes it so Cleveland’s rotation will always have multiple 3-point threats on the floor, even after substitutions, which in turn will pressure opponent defenses and open things up for everyone.

The trade was a great move, and I’m excited to see the Cavaliers bolster themselves for another championship run.

Report: Dwight Howard gave back $2.6 million in buyout with Memphis, what he will make in L.A.

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Dwight Howard will get his money, the full $5.6 million he opted into this summer. The man is getting paid.

The checks are just coming from two different teams.

To facilitate a move to the Lakers, Howard is giving back $2.6 million in a buyout with the Grizzlies — exactly how much he makes on a minimum contract with Los Angeles. From Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN:

My guess is the Grizzlies will just take the cap hit this season to get Howard off the books.

This is exactly how this was expected to go down financially if Howard came to Los Angeles. The risk for Howard is he will sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Lakers — they can waive him for whatever reason, pay a small buyout fee, and Howard loses out on the $2.6 million.

That’s motivation for him to follow through on what he promised the team.

 

Former NBA, ABA coach Tom Nissalke dead at 87

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Tom Nissalke, who won coach of the year honors in the NBA and ABA, has died. He was 87.

Nissalke passed away at his home in Salt Lake City on Thursday after facing a “series of health-related problems” in recent years, according to the Deseret News.

He was the first coach of the Utah Jazz after the franchise relocated from New Orleans in 1979.

Nissalke was also an NBA head coach in Seattle, Houston, and Cleveland.

Nissalke got his start in the pro ranks as an assistant with Milwaukee and helped guide a team featuring Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to an NBA title in 1971. His work with the Bucks landed him a head coaching gig with the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals. He led them to a 42-42 record in his first season and was named the league’s top coach.

He was hired the next season in Seattle but was fired after a 13-32 start. Nissalke then coached the Utah Stars and San Antonio before returning to the NBA with the Rockets. He won 124 games in three seasons with Houston, twice taking the team to the playoffs and the 1977 Eastern Conference finals.

Nissalke was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year after going 49-33 in 1976-77.

After retiring, he was active with the YMCA and worked as a radio analyst.

Nissalke is survived by a daughter, Holly, son Thomas Jr, and two grandchildren. His wife, Nancy, died in 2006.

 

How Dwight Howard convinced the Lakers to take a chance on him

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Laker fans Friday sounded like your friends after an ugly relationship and breakup, when you suddenly consider taking that person back. Laker nation took to Twitter screaming “ARE YOU SERIOUS? What are you thinking? Are you even thinking?”

The Lakers, however, are entering a second relationship with Dwight Howard with their eyes wide open — he will sign a non-guaranteed contract to be the team’s center (sharing duties with Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee). Howard will have to prove himself, on and off the court. The Lakers have leverage and can waive Howard and move on to Joakim Noah or someone else quickly if things do not pan out.

But how did it even get to this point? How did Howard — who did his annual summer media tour saying “I have changed, I am taking the game and my conditioning seriously, I just want a chance” and league observers shrugged because they have heard the same thing for years — convince the Lakers to roll the dice on him again? Shams Charania of The Athletic laid it all out.

Howard’s message to [Laker assistant coach Jason] Kidd and the Lakers was the same one he delivered to The Athletic in July from NBA summer league: He’s learned from the past several seasons, learned that, at age 33, he is simply one of the guys now. Howard believes he can contribute at a high level for any NBA team, but the eight-time All-Star also understands he has to focus on rebounding, defense, blocking shots, finishing around the rim and simply playing whenever he is asked… Kidd became convinced about Howard’s newfound awakening…

The Lakers then began setting workouts for free agents, and Howard traveled from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Wednesday. His meeting and workout with the Lakers was set for Thursday, but Howard went to the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo, Calif., on Wednesday afternoon for his own training session. The Lakers were surprised to see him, sources said, and many key decision makers were in attendance…

League sources said Howard had a convincing and emotional meeting with the players and Lakers officials, explaining how he had reached rock bottom a season ago and needed to find a new mindset in his life. On and off the floor. He was not the teammate he needed to be in playing for three teams in the past three years. He did not take the game seriously enough, he did not understand what was needed to turn the corner.

Howard has said all that before. Multiple times. To multiple teams and teammates. Maybe this time he has genuinely figured things out, but whatever he did and said was enough to convince the Lakers to buy in…

To a point.

One could argue — and I would make the case — that Noah would be a better fit on the court for the Lakers’ needs in terms of passing and defense, but he comes with plenty of risks as well (health, getting along with LeBron James, and how much he liked the nightlife as a Knick in New York and what that would mean in L.A.). At least with Howard, the Lakers mitigated that risk with the non-guaranteed contract. If Howard will not accept his role and is disruptive (as he has been in recent stops), if he is still eating candy like a bingeing 10-year-old on Halloween night, if he can’t stay healthy, the Lakers can waive Howard and move on. If the Lakers brought in Noah, they would have been smart to have the same non-guaranteed contract (if Noah would have signed that kind of deal).

For now the Lakers have their man, but he’s basically on probation. Howard has to prove in deeds everything he has said in words.

Report: Dwight Howard agrees to buyout with Grizzlies, will join Lakers on non-guaranteed deal

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Once again, the Lakers are betting that Dwight Howard and his back are healthy. However, this time the Lakers have hedged that bet.

After a workout this week in front of Lakers’ coaches and front office staff, Howard’s agent has worked out a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies, and Howard will sign with Los Angeles, filling the role that had belonged to DeMarcus Cousins before he tore his ACL this summer. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN added vital details.

There’s a segment of Lakers’ fans — a large, vocal segment — that is going to hate this move because of the history. The Lakers get that, but the coaches and staff also know this: If he’s healthy, and if he’s willing to accept a role on the court, if he’s willing to adapt how he is in the locker room and with the staff and front office (there are reasons Howard has bounced from team to team to team in recent years), Howard is the best fit for the Lakers on the court.

Last time Howard was a Laker back issues limited him on the court, and his not taking the game or his conditioning very seriously (Howard has a legendary candy-eating habit) rubbed Kobe Bryant the wrong way. To put it mildly. LeBron James is going to bring that same work ethic and attitude, but now the Lakers have some leverage on Howard with the non-guaranteed contract.

The Lakers had planned to lean heavily on Cousins this season. The Lakers have arguably the best center in the game today in Anthony Davis, but he does he want to play 30+ minutes a night banging away down in the post (nor is he physically built for that). Cousins was going to be the center much of the game, with Davis sliding over to the five for key stretches. But Cousins is almost certainly lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Howard was the best potential fit to replace Cousins on the court, or at least do so in combination with JaVale McGee (it’s going to take both of them to soak up all the minutes at the five the Lakers need). For three seasons, from 2015-16 to 2017-18, Howard averaged 13+ points and 12 rebounds a night, was a big body on defense, and played at least 71 games in averaging 30 minutes a night. Exactly the kind of player the Lakers could use. The problem was Howard was never happy just playing that role and doing those things, which led to disruptions as he pushed for a larger role.

There are two key concerns bringing in Howard. Health is one, Howard played just nine games for the Wizards last season following another back surgery and some hamstring issues. The other is Will Howard accept the role he is given, play hard, and not be a distraction?

If Howard doesn’t fit, the Lakers also worked out Joakim Noah — who impressed a lot of people around the league with his solid 41 games for Memphis the second half of last season — and Mo Speights. They will have other options.

But for now, the Lakers are betting on Howard.