Tomorrow night the 76ers (2-4) host the Utah Jazz (5-1) is what will be a homecoming of sorts for former Sixer Kyle Korver. Twenty-five games into last season, new Sixers President and GM Ed Stefanski traded Korver to Utah for Gordan Giricek and a future first-round pick. Stefanski made the deal to free salary cap space. Eventually, in July, Stefanski used this space to sign power forward Elton Brand.
When the trade was made, Korver was averaging 10.0 points a game for the Sixers. During the 2006-07 season, Korver averaged 14.4 points a game and shot 43.0 percent from the three-point line. Since dealing Korver, the Sixers have struggled with their outside shooting, finishing last season as the NBA's worst 3-point shooters (31.7 percent).
Today, Korver and his new team practiced at PCOM. The Jazz lost to the New York Knicks last night. Korver walked into the PCOM gym and said hello to various members of the Sixers staff. He then sat on the the tables at center court and talked about his time in Philly.
"It's very bizarre to me," Korver said about walking into PCOM with a different team. "It's good to be back."
Korver, who still owns a home in Philadelphia, said he slept in his own bed last night, and that he spent more time in Philly this past summer than anywhere else.
Korver said a piece of his heart is still in the city.
"I didn't like Philly at first," said Korver, who went to high school in Pella, Iowa. "It took me a year or two to get used to it."
Korver played in Philly from 2003 to 2008. "This is where I found myself as a man," Korver said.
"I have a lot of guys on the team I'm still friends with. It makes things weird, but I'm excited about tomorrow."
As for Korver's new town -- Salt Lake City -- he said there is no comparison between the two. Through 50 games last regular season, Korver averaged 9.8 points a game. In Utah's 12 playoff games, he averaged 7.8 points.
"There's nothing that's similar. From the style of basketball to the city itself. It takes me five minutes to get to practice, no matter what time I leave."
When Korver landed in Salt Lake last season, the Jazz promptly won 16 of 18 games. Korver's ability to spread the defense and space out an offense was something the Jazz needed.
"I like to think I helped," Korver said. "We have a really good team here."
This season, Korver is averaging 7.5 points a game and shooting 40.0 percent from beyond the arc. Korver said a mild sprain of his right wrist contributed to a slow(er) start this season.
With the Sixers struggling through a slow start, the lack of an outside shooter such as Korver has been a topic of discussion. Korver said he has been approached while walking around the city by fans saying as much.
Korver said he understands what happened last season and that it was a business decision.
"They have new guys, new pieces," Korver said of his old team, adding that he checks the boxscores. "It will take them a while to find themselves, but they will."
How about those Phillies?
"I was pumped about the Phillies. Selfishly I wanted to be a part of the team that ended the drought, but I was excited they won."
One of Korver's former teammates, Andre Iguodala laughed when asked about tomorrow night's matchup against Korver.
Iguodala, to summarize in a family-friendly way, said the Sixers were going to take it at their old teammate. When told of Iguodala's challenge, Korver laughed and said, "We'll see what happens tomorrow night."
It should be interesting.