After it initially seemed like he was heading to the Brooklyn Nets for a discount, Kyle Korver reversed course and agreed to a four-year, $24 million contract to stay with the Atlanta Hawks. Korver clearly valued the length of the deal; he reportedly turned down a three-year, $21 million deal from the Milwaukee Bucks, which would have paid him more annually.
This is probably a somewhat understandable overpay, much like many of the contracts handed out to low-usage wing shooters in the $4-7 million range. In a vacuum, Korver's probably worth the money, at least as much as any shooting in the mid-level range is "worth" it. However, it's definitely curious that the Hawks, a team likely to embrace a full-scale rebuilding effort if they miss out on Dwight Howard, handed out this deal.
Korver is among the best of the shooting wings we've seen become en vogue in the league in recent years. He had a monster season in many ways in Atlanta, shooting 46 percent from three-point range while posting the highest true shooting percentage of his career. It wasn't quite as bonkers of a shooting year as the one he had in 2009-10 with Utah, when he shot 54 percent from three-point range, but it was pretty close. He fit in really nicely in Atlanta's Flex offense, playing off their two penetrating guards in Jeff Teague and Devin Harris.
Korver's definitely limited, but maybe not as much as one would think. He's no stopper, obviously, but his team defense is usually sound enough to make him a productive part of the help-defense chain. (Per NBA.com's stats page, the Hawks were actually better defensively with him in than out last season). He'll rebound a bit, moves well without the ball and will give it up quickly. He also has a track record of success, which makes him a more desirable player than, say, Martell Webster, whose four-year, $22 million deal with the Wizards is a bit scary because of his injury history.
That said ... this deal will pay Korver $7 million or so when he's 35 going on 36, and that's a lot of coin for the Hawks to pay for someone with one elite skill. It's somewhat understandable to overpay if it means securing a key role player for a contending team, but the Hawks are likely about to go through a full-scale rebuilding effort. Korver's the type of player that fares better on good teams than bad ones, because so much of his game is reliant on playing off others. In his career, he's played with Allen Iverson, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose and the Hawks' dynamic guard duo. Korver's value goes up if both Harris and Teague are retained; it sinks a bit if they aren't.
With that in mind, why was it Atlanta that gave Korver this amount of money? One theory is that the Hawks, who likely will miss out on Howard and appear to be moving on from Josh Smith, need to spend the money on somebody to reach the salary floor. Teams must spend 90 percent of the salary cap this year, a much higher number than in the past, and the Hawks' current salary situation places them way under that number. You have to spend on somebody, and Korver at least is a good pro that has a skill that probably won't leave him as he gets older.
But there are other ways to get to the cap floor, such as making unbalanced trades for short-term contracts. If the Hawks are going to rebuild, I'd rather they pursued that route and let Korver go to Milwaukee. It's cliche to say, but it's also true on a lot of levels: rebuilding teams don't need expensive role players like Korver, even if the player itself is properly valued with his new contract.
(Of course, if the Hawks do bring some of those pieces back and decide to toe the line between rebuilding and reloading, much of this analysis is moot).
GRADE: C+ if the Hawks embrace rebuilding, but up to a B if the Hawks keep some of their core pieces.