The defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers are a stronger team with former Hawks shooting guard Kyle Korver in the fold. But are they a stronger basketball pick? Only because of the domino effect in the East.
Season Record: 4-1 ATS, 0-2 ML (-2.00 units)
That collective groan you heard across the Eastern Conference was for a good reason. The Cavaliers have improved their title chances by adding 3-point specialist Kyle Korver in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks. The Cavs are still available between +220 and +285 on the NBA futures market, but those odds should get a little shorter once Korver has settled in and starts helping to spread the opposing defenses.
It isn't necessarily because Korver (-0.2 BPM) moves the needle all that much. On paper, he's an upgrade over Mike Dunleavy (-2.7 BPM), who was part of the trade and will report to the Hawks after some discussions of a buyout. Cleveland should have even more spacing now for LeBron James to do his thing. But the Cavs haven't been a profitable NBA pick this year and adding Korver isn't likely to change that – not directly, at least.
The Korver Effect
The story behind the story is the ripple effect the Korver deal is having on Cleveland's closest competition in the East. It appeared at first that the Hawks were ready to tear down their roster and unload their impending free agents, specifically Korver, Thabo Sefolosha (+1.9 BPM), and, most importantly, Paul Millsap (+2.9 BPM). Yet Atlanta has reportedly pulled Millsap off the market after going on a winning streak and moving up to No. 4 in the Eastern standings.
The Hawks may be winning, but they're still worse off (in the short term) after this trade. And the Toronto Raptors, who have been nipping at Cleveland's heels all season, have one fewer option for fixing their power forward situation now that Millsap is unavailable. While Toronto remains a strong value on the NBA odds board, after the Korver deal and its fallout that elusive championship is even farther out of reach today.