CLEVELAND (AP) — Unable to chase any high-profile free agents, the Cavaliers want to retain one of their own.
With an eye on closing the gap on Golden State after losing in the NBA Finals, the Cavs will extend a contract offer to free agent forward Kyle Korver after the negotiating period begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, a person familiar with the decision told the Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not discussing its plans in free agency.
Korver is a high priority for the Cavs, who are restricted from making any major signings because they’re over the salary cap.
Free agents can agree to deals during the league’s moratorium but can’t sign until July 6.
The 36-year-old Korver, though, remains one of the best outside shooters in league history and has expressed an interest to stay with Cleveland after making it to the finals for the first time in his career last season.
Korver averaged 10.7 points and shot 49 percent on 3-pointers in 35 games for Cleveland after coming over in a trade from Atlanta in January. Overall, he made a league-high 45 percent of his 3s.
Korver struggled in the playoffs, averaging 5.8 points, and he missed a critical 3-pointer in the final minute of Game 3 of the finals that could have trimmed Golden State’s lead in the series. The Warriors eventually dethroned the Cavs in five games.
Korver made $5.2 million last season, his 16th in the league. He’s expected to draw interest from other teams, but his experience and the chance to push for a championship alongside LeBron James could entice him to stay put.
And while they map out free agency, the Cavs are still looking for an executive after recently parting ways with general manager David Griffin, who guided the club to three straight Eastern Conference titles.
Owner Dan Gilbert has been in talks with former All-Star guard Chauncey Billups about a lead role in basketball operations. The 40-year-old Billups has been weighing whether to move or remain a TV analyst. He recently met with Gilbert, who is searching for his fifth GM since buying the Cavs in 2005.
Until Cleveland’s front-office situation is settled, assistant GM Koby Altman is the point man for free agents and possible trades. The Cavs were active on draft night and were in talks on several deals, including one involving All-Star forward Kevin Love, but nothing materialized.
Cleveland’s best route to adding more talent to support James may be through trades, but the club will likely have to part with talent to land an impact player.