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Small forward Kyle Korver and shooting guard J.R. Smith are the two members of the Cleveland Cavaliers who will draw the strongest interest from opposing teams ahead of the NBA trade deadline in February, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
“I think if Korver were in the last year of his contract there would be tremendous interest around the league,” Wojnarowski said on The Jump. “Some teams are trying to clear cap space for next summer (and the 2019 free-agent class), like Philadelphia.But Philly’s gotta look and say, ‘It’s fine to have space moving forward, but we need shooters.'”
Smith is making $14.7 million this season, with Korver set to earn $7.6 million. Multiple reports have said the Cavs are looking to trade both players, and that they would be listen to offers for center Tristan Thompson as well.
Korver reportedly requested a trade after LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, and Smith has said he too would like to be traded. Smith said that after being told a second time he was getting removed from the rotation. He has since been receiving regular minutes.
“I think Korver is going to have a much stronger market than J.R. Smith,” Wojnarowski said. “But with their ability to shoot the ball, and win-now teams (emerging) between now and the trade deadline, they’ll both be somewhere else this season, I would expect at some point.”
Former Detroit Pistons head coach and executive Stan Van Gundy was also on the show, and said the Cavs may be at a disadvantage in trade talks, as opposing teams are aware Cleveland is trying to move on from some of the veteran players.
“It makes it tough,” Van Gundy said. “But I think a team like Philly should make a pretty strong move for (Korver), and that could maybe put J.J. Redick back in the starting lineup, and put Kyle Korver in that Marco Belinelli role that he played when that team took off last year. That would make them a lot better.”
Belinelli has since moved on to the San Antonio Spurs, leaving the Sixers with the need for some strong perimeter shooting in reserve.
Meanwhile, Wojnarowski added the Cavs will need to be careful in potential trade talks involving Korver and Smith.
“Cleveland has to be pretty realistic about what they’re getting back,” Wojnarowski said. “They’re not getting draft picks for those two. They might get a second-rounder from a team with multiple seconds. But they’re not getting a first, and they may have to take back a player who has money going forward.
“It may not solve the age problem or the role problem. You don’t want to create another problem on your roster.”