By The Sports Xchange
NEW ORLEANS — The NBA is a cold business because so often yesterday’s glory is yesterday’s news.
The Atlanta Hawks, who won 60 games in 2014-15 before ultimately losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals, parted ways with sharpshooting guard Kyle Korver on Thursday night after a 99-94 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Hawks continued their massive organizational overhaul by trading the 14-year veteran to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Mike Dunleavy Jr. and a protected 2019 first-round draft choice.
The trade was rumored to have been completed before the game — Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer informed Korver privately of the move just before tipoff — but he did not tell Korver’s teammates officially until after the game.
Korver suited up and was on the bench throughout the game, but the only thing he could play was the part of a cheerleader for a team to which he no longer belonged.
“What can I say about it?” Korver said, mulling over his four-plus seasons with the Hawks in which he was automatic from behind the 3-point line. “It will definitely be mixed emotions. There’s a lot of hard ties to Atlanta for a lot of reasons — a lot of friendships, relationships.
“(This is) where I had my best basketball career, honestly. It’s where I had all my kids, so it’s hard to leave that behind.
“Obviously, it’s a great opportunity for me to go to Cleveland. I’m very excited about that part, but there’s definitely a lot of relationships that care a lot about here that I’m going to miss.”
Guard Dennis Schroder scored a game-high 23 points, including an go-ahead 3-pointer with 73 seconds left, and forward Paul Millsap added a 15-foot jumper with 38 seconds left to cement the victory for Atlanta (20-16).
It was the Hawks’ fifth consecutive win and their 10th in the last 14 games. Schroder and Millsap combined for the Hawks’ final 11 points.
After the game, Millsap seemed emotionally spent by the news of Korver’s departure.
“It’s tough, man,” Millsap said. “But to see him on the bench and continue to cheer us on knowing that he’s going to another team — to me, that means a lot. It says it’s a lot about his personality and his character. For a guy to be traded before the game and know that he’s going on another team but continue to support his teammates, to continue to support us, says a lot about who he is.”
Millsap himself has been the subject of trade rumors, and the fact that the Hawks have dismantled a team that made a championship run just two seasons ago has been disconcerting.
“I don’t know if I can read anything about who’s left on that team from a few years ago, that 60-win team, but Kyle was a big part of that,” Millsap said. “Jeff (Teague) was a big part of it. DeMarre (Carroll) was a big part of that — and all of them are gone.
“I’m still here, but a big part of our team that was here is gone right now. We can’t look back in the past. We have to look forward to what happens in future.”
Center Dwight Howard, who was acquired from the Houston Rockets during the offseason and thought he was coming to a team with solid chance to make a deep playoff run, said he did not know what to think about the trade.
“This basketball is a serious business,” Howard said. “You never know what could happen with any team.
“I think guys are pretty hurt about it. On the one hand, you want to be happy for him (because) he’s going to a really good team. On the other hand, man, he’s going to a really good team.
“I thought we were really building and growing. We had won some really good games as of late and started to move up. We haven’t really hit our peak. It’s just shocking.”
Asked if he might say anything to Hawks management, Howard smiled and said: “I keep my mouth shut and my head down and play basketball.”
In 32 games this season, Korver has averaged 9.5 points per game on 44.1 percent shooting from the field, including 40.9 percent from long range.
Korver said he is trying to put everything into perspective.
“From a basketball perspective, this is a great fit for me, and I know that,” he said, “but a lot has happened in the last 4 1/2 years, a lot that I’m proud of and a lot I really cared about. That’s what makes this hard.”
NOTES: Pelicans F Anthony Davis (20 points and 19 rebounds) said the Pelicans played too much one-on-one ball against Atlanta. “We weren’t moving the ball,” Davis said. “We had 19 assists, but it felt like mostly one-on-one, then passing the ball. When we play one-on-one, we get a lot of bad shots.” … The NBA released the initial results of fan balloting for the All-Star Game in New Orleans on Feb. 19 and Pelicans F Anthony Davis was ranked No. 4 among frontcourt players in the Western Conference behind Kevin Durant and Zaza Pachulia of Golden State and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio. … The Atlanta Hawks had no players in the Top 10 in the frontcourt or backcourt for the Eastern Conference. … The Pelicans did not activate newly acquired C Donatas Motiejunas for the game. Coach Alvin Gentry said he wanted Motiejunas to get his legs under him after not having played in eight months. He will play on the Pelicans’ upcoming five-game road trip. … New Orleans G Tyreke Evans tweaked his back Wednesday in practice, but the injury is not considered serious.