PORTLAND, Ore. - The 76ers traded one of their most popular players for the chance to clear more salary-cap space, signaling the first bold move by president and general manager Ed Stefanski.
Fifth-year swingman Kyle Korver was sent to the Utah Jazz yesterday for guard Gordan Giricek and a future first-round draft choice.
Even Stefanski, speaking by conference call, couldn't spin this move into anything more than a cap-clearing measure.
The Sixers will save approximately $15 million in this deal.
Giricek, who is making $4 million this season, has an expiring contract, a desired commodity for teams such as the Sixers looking to get well under the cap in order to make a run at a desired free agent.
Korver, who is earning nearly $4.4 million this year, has $15.4 million owed to him in the next three years after this one.
The first-round pick has more provisions than most player contracts. According to Stefanski, the pick can start no sooner than 2009, and the Sixers have seven years in which to make it.
There are different protections for each year, according to Stefanski. Teams often put protections on picks so they don't lose a potential lottery choice.
Stefanski estimated that if nothing else happens, the Sixers would be about $10 million under the estimated salary cap for next season. It's possible that the Sixers could have the most cap room of any NBA team.
"We felt this was a move for the plan that we have to try to secure cap space in the summer," Stefanski said. "The pick could be a player or a chip in a future trade."
Korver had mixed feelings, knowing he is going to a quality team but also sad to leave so many friends.
"I am not totally shocked, but I am surprised," Korver said in a phone interview. "I feel I can fit in well in Utah, but the hardest part is leaving the city of Philadelphia, where I had great friendships not only with my teammates but the people here who have been great to me."
Korver, 26, was so respected on the team that coach Maurice Cheeks talked to the players yesterday about the business side of basketball and the necessity to move on. Still, it didn't make taking the news any easier.
"He is one of the best in my time being in this league, not only coaching, he is one of the classiest guys who was always doing things for the good of the team," Cheeks said.
Sixers guard Willie Green was among the players closest to Korver. Both are fifth-year players who went into the NBA together as unheralded second-round picks.
"Kyle is definitely a good friend and a spiritual brother of mine," Green said. "We are losing a great teammate, a great friend and a great guy."
The Jazz see Korver as a "proven" NBA player.
"We think Kyle is a good basketball player who has proven he can make shots and proven he can play in the NBA, and we're happy to acquire him," said Kevin O'Connor, Jazz senior vice president of basketball operations.
Giricek, 30, who fell out of favor with coach Jerry Sloan at Utah, likely doesn't figure in the Sixers' long-range plans. He is averaging just 4.3 points per game this season.
It is not known if Giricek will be available for today's game against the Portland Trail Blazers. He is expected to arrive in Portland this morning.
Stefanski and another NBA source said that Korver generated sufficient trade interest. According to the source, Utah beat out Miami and San Antonio for Korver.
Even though he had an inconsistent season this year, averaging 10 points and shooting 39.6 percent from the field, Korver is valued for his range.
The beneficiaries of this trade appear to be wing players Thaddeus Young, Rodney Carney, Green and combination guard Lou Williams. Those four will likely pick up Korver's minutes unless Giricek can find his way into the rotation.
Gordan Giricek's Career Statistics
YR TM G FG FG% 3P% FT% STL BLK TO REB AST PTS PPG
02-03 Orl. 27 143-325 . 440 .328 .816 30 2 51 130 67 387 14.3
Mem. 49 207-478 .433 .354 .822 22 6 94 108 70 548 11.2
03-04 Orl. 48 188-427 .440 .407 .827 41 10 63 164 80 489 10.2
Utah 25 128-297 .431 .359 .883 15 5 40 62 42 338 13.5
04-05 Utah 81 283-632 .448 .362 .810 46 11 90 182 137 715 8.8
05-06 Utah 37 166-383 .433 .305 .754 16 4 63 70 63 393 10.6
06-07 Utah 61 176-381 .462 .426 .816 28 5 64 129 63 475 7.8
07-08 Utah 22 41-102 .402 .353 1.000 13 1 21 31 16 95 4.3
Totals 350 1332-3025 .440 .368 .820 211 44 486 876 538 3440 9.8
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225