The trading of Joe Johnson had many more ripple effects than most realize. Directly it only brought back Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams and Jordan Farmar, and the latter two never saw a single minute in a Hawks jersey. But it also opened up a large enough trade exception to bring Kyle Korver to Atlanta for virtually nothing due to clearing so much salary.
This past season saw Korver make the fourth most three pointers in the league and finish second behind Jose Calderon in three point percentage. On July 1st, he’ll be a free agent presumably looking to secure a multiyear deal, with Atlanta being just one of many possibly suitors.
However, it appears the Hawks may have a leg up on the competition. Kyle Korver told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution his views on his time in Atlanta and his hopes of possibly staying:
“They said they would like to work something out, so we’ll talk in July. I really enjoyed my year here in Atlanta. I enjoyed the team. I enjoyed the organization. I believe (general manager) Danny Ferry is going to do some great things here. I think he has a great opportunity to bring in guys who are going to play fun basketball. … So, I’m very open to coming back here.”
It’s not often one of the greatest three point shooters in NBA history lands in your lap, and the Hawks certainly did not just bring him in for show. His work coming off screens is something of an art form and his shooting stroke has been known to make Yo-Yo Ma cry at the sheer beauty.
Too often fans get lost in a consecutive three pointers streak to forget all the other qualities he brought to the team. He might have been the closest thing to a small forward the Hawks had available the entire year. DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Tolliver and Dauntay Jones were admirable in that role but are not much more than deep bench options. He also grabbed more rebounds per game in any season since his 2004-05 season with the Philadelphia 76ers and turned the ball over less per game than at any point in his career.
Now to the meat of his contributions. Thanks to the people at hotshotcharts.com for the previous graphic. Going from blue spots to red spots indicates the progression from poor shooting to great shooting, and the larger the circles mean more shots attempts. Look how he spaces the floor! There is virtually no spot behind the arc where he isn’t an exceptionally efficient scorer. Arguably the four main components of the offense were a pair of big men and two point guards who function better getting to the basket than spotting up. Maybe John Jenkins can fill those shoes next season, as SDS writer Brandon Barnes points out, but if given the ability to retain Kyle Korver and there is mutual interest on both sides, then why not jump at the opportunity?
His entire career has a been fulfillment of fitting into a specified role on a team. He’ll never be a primary ball handler or a lockdown defensive player but he doesn’t need to be. Shooters shoot the ball, or so the saying goes. As a steady veteran voice in the locker room and a steadily lethal long range shooter, any team will be very happy to have him as part of their organization going forward.