Cavaliers GM David Griffin said the team was open to re-signing J.R. Smith, under the right set of circumstances.
Smith declined his player option for next season, and is an unrestricted free agent. He wasn’t much help during the NBA Finals, where his 24-of-77 shooting over the course of the six-game series played a part in the team’s downfall against the Warriors.
After adding some guard depth in Mo Williams, it was worth wondering if the Cavaliers had moved on from their interest in retaining Smith. But the team is reportedly intent on bringing everyone from last year’s squad back if at all possible.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Sources say Cavs remain intent on signing restricted free agent Matthew Dellavedova
Early indications are Cavs likewise have NOT abandoned JR Smith pursuit. They seem intent on keeping whole band together. And adding to it
The problem for the Cavaliers last season — in addition to the obvious, which were the injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving that left the team extremely shorthanded — was having “depth” that was incapable of providing anywhere close to a consistent level of production.
Mike Miller, Joe Harris, Brendan Haywood, Kendrick Perkins (and even James Jones to a certain extent) took up valuable spots on the roster, but weren’t trustworthy enough to earn significant playing time, when fatigue was clearly a factor during the championship series.
There are other moves that Cleveland is considering, like bringing in Jamal Crawford in trade from the Clippers. But it appears as though they’d like to bring back the rest of the guys who played heavy minutes in the rotation last season, too, as long as the price is right.
Another summer, another former Cavaliers All-Star returns to Cleveland.
Last year, LeBron James.
This year, Mo Williams.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Williams will get part of the Cavaliers’ $3,376,000 taxpayer mid-level exception. Depending how his deal is structured, they will have between $1,273,311 and$1,176,512 of the MLE remaining. That’s right around a minimum salary (which varies by experience).
So, Williams will be Cleveland’s lone major – used loosely here – outside free agent addition unless someone is willing to take a minimum contract or so.
But the Cavaliers have other chips – most notably Brendan Haywood’s contract. They can still get better.
For now, Williams fills one of the biggest holes on a pretty complete roster. He’ll back up Kyrie Irving and maybe play some off guard if Cleveland wants more minutes for Matthew Dellavedova and/or doesn’t re-sign J.R. Smith. Williams is a scorer first, but he’s also a solid passer. A ball-handler like him was missing off the bench last year.
The Cavaliers didn’t need much. They need even less now.
There’s a reason – beyond the name recognition of LeBron, Irving and Kevin Love – Cleveland is favored to win the 2016 championship.
The Cavaliers may be looking to add a better version of J.R. Smith.
The Clippers are looking for a way to turn Jamal Crawford and his contract into something bigger that would let them chase a better center to replace DeAndre Jordan.
Which is why the Clippers and Cavaliers are discussing a Jamal Crawford for the contract of Brendan Haywood trade, reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.
The idea of the Cavaliers trading for Joe Johnson comes with Cleveland having to likely ship out Anderson Varejao as well, then Dan Gilbert would have a steep tax bill to pay (the salary plus tax would be in the $200 million range). J.R. Smith is erratic.
Which is why the Crawford-for-Haywood trade could work for both sides.
Crawford was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year two years ago. However, last year he shot just 32.7 percent from three and his game overall took a step back (although his PER of 16.3 was above the league average and better than Smith and Johnson). Crawford is owed just $5.6 million next season, so the Cavs would get better — or at least more steady — help off the bench and save money (the Clippers would need to include non-guaranteed contracts like Lester Hudson’s in the deal to make the numbers work).
For the Clippers, it’s all about $10.5 million, fully unguaranteed contract of Haywood and flipping that for another asset. The Clippers can get a better player along their now-depleted front line for Haywood’s contract than they can for Crawford outright. (If the Clippers just waive Haywood they would drop down in the range to have a full mid-level exception of about $5.7 million to give out, but that’s no better than just trading Crawford.)
The Clippers will count on Lance Stephenson to replace Crawford’s production.
Haywood’s contract becomes guaranteed on Aug. 1, so as long as whatever team waives him by July 31 saves all that cash. Sadly, the piece of paper with Haywood’s name on it is worth far more than Haywood on the court right now.