J.R. Smith declined his player option for next season, one that would have paid him just under $6.4 million to remain with the Cavaliers.
Smith, you’ll recall, was awful in the Finals when LeBron James needed someone, anyone, to step up and hit open shots. He was 24-of-77 from the field in six games against the Warriors, and was one flagrant foul away from a suspension, which would have been even more devastating to his team’s chances in the series.
Despite all of that, the Cavaliers are open to bringing him back — if the price is right.
From Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:
J.R. Smith did not inform the Cleveland Cavaliers he planned on opting into his $6.4 million contract for next season by Thursday’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline and thus will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 by default, according to Cavs general manager David Griffin.
“If it’s the right situation for us, yeah,” Griffin said late Thursday night when asked if the Cavs are interested in re-signing Smith. “We certainly intend to pursue those conversations.”
Smith is a bit of a wild card, obviously, but seemed to fit in with the Cavaliers during the regular season. He’s reportedly seeking an increase over his previous salary, and wants the security that a multi-year deal can provide.
The question in Cleveland will become whether or not the team can go out and get more consistent shooting in free agency, at a more palatable price. If the Cavaliers can’t find any options that are more appealing, it’s possible they go with the devil they know by attempting to bring back Smith on a reasonable deal for next season.
LeBron James, asked about his plans for free agency, said he’s happy in Cleveland.
After his going-home letter, he can’t leave again.
Or could he?
LeBron reportedly plans to pressure the Cavaliers with that implied threat.
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:
The contract situations of Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and to a certain degree Brendan Haywood are expected to be resolved before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ re-sign the world’s most dominant player.
James will take a wait-and-see approach while the Cavaliers tend to their housekeeping matters, league sources informed Northeast Ohio Media Group.
He’ll be the last domino to fall, if all goes as planned, league sources with knowledge of the situation presume.
This is why I expect Thompson to get a massive contract and Smith to get paid handsomely. LeBron has spoken extremely highly of both.
I have yet to see Shumpert get that same treatment, and Love is his definitely on his own. But considering the Cavaliers can’t come close to replacing Love if he walks, they’ll pony up for him.
Again, LeBron almost certainly won’t leave Cleveland this summer. But no matter how low those odds are, the Cavaliers don’t want to risk tipping them the other direction.
So, LeBron will wait, and they’ll appease him.
J.R. Smith did a fantastic job getting the PhunkeeDuck scooter company some free publicity during the NBA Finals, but that was about the extent of things he did well. He didn’t exactly endear himself to Cavaliers fans with his performance.
The question now is will he be back next season in Cleveland?
Wednesday Smith made the expected official and opted out of his contract for next season with the Cavaliers, as reported by Shams Charania of Real GM.
Smith was traded to the Cavaliers from the Knicks at the trade deadline, and it was he, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov that helped turn the Cavaliers’ season around. Smith provided a spark off the bench and some depth that the Cavaliers had lacked. Sure, he was inconsistent and described his play in the Finals as “horses—“ but that’s what you get with Smith, he is the walking definition of the hot hand theory.
The Cavaliers may want him back but at what price?
My guess is it’s a million or so below the $6.4 he was to make last year, but for three years or so. That would give the Cavaliers some depth at a fair price and Smith some stability.
The question is will another GM, after missing out on a target, come in over the top with a larger offer?