Tag: J.R. Smith

LeBron James

LeBron James: Championship not a requirement of a great team


LeBron James played for a 66-win team. Didn’t win a title.

LeBron and his teammates proved it wasn’t a fluke the next season, winning 61 games. Didn’t win a title.

LeBron joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a team many feared would destroy the NBA’s competitive balance. Didn’t win a title.

LeBron formed yet another super team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Didn’t win a title.

But – at least in LeBron’s eyes – that doesn’t mean those teams necessarily fell short of greatness.

LeBron, via Bleacher Report:

If you don’t know the history of the game, man, you’ll forget how many great teams didn’t win championships. And that doesn’t mean they wasn’t great, though.

LeBron was referring to the 2000 Western Conference finals. The eventual-NBA-champion Lakers beat the Trail Blazers in seven games. Portland – with a starting lineup of Damon Stoudamire, Steve Smith, Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace and Arvydas Sabonis – won 59 games and crushed the Jazz and Timberwolves before running into the Lakers.

I agree with LeBron’s premise. A team can be great without winning a title. Sometimes, a team just catches the wrong breaks, like playing in a season where there are multiple great teams.

Those Trail Blazers were borderline great, with both past and future success to support their consistency. They just ran into Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Nothing Portland could do about that.

But a title is an important consideration – the most important – when determining a team’s greatness. Personally, I think the 1999-00 Trail Blazers fall just short, but either argument is reasonable.

And for what it’s worth, I think all of LeBron’s title-less teams fall short of greatness for similar reasons, though last year’s Cavaliers played great between their midseason trades for Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith and the postseason injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Report: J.R. Smith’s two-year deal with Cavs includes player option and no-trade clause

J.R. Smith

Earlier on Thursday, J.R. Smith announced that he’s staying with the Cavaliers. He opted out of the final year and $6.5 million on his contract hoping to get a bigger deal, but after finding no takers, he signed what Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting is a two-year deal with a player option and a no-trade clause, which will pay him $5 million next season.

The reported deal is a loss of $1.5 million on what Smith would have made next season if he’d opted in, but now he has more control over his own future. If he has a good year, he can opt out and take another stab at free agency next summer when the cap goes up.

As for the no-trade clause, it’s triggered by this clause in the CBA (via Larry Coon’s indispensible CBA FAQ):

There are two additional circumstances in which a trade requires the player’s consent:

  • When the player is playing under a one-year contract (excluding any option year) and will have Larry Bird or Early Bird rights at the end of the season. This includes first round draft picks following their fourth (option) season, who accept their team’s qualifying offer for their fifth season. When the player consents to such a trade, his Larry Bird/Early Bird rights are not traded with him, and instead becomes a Non-Bird free agent.

Since the second year on Smith’s new deal is a player option, it’s essentially treated as a one-year deal. If he does consent to a trade away from the Cavs in his first year, his new team won’t have his Bird rights, which means they won’t be able to go over the cap to re-sign him.

Given the lack of options Smith had, this seems like a good deal for both sides. The Cavs get him for less than he would have made under his old contract, and he gets more security and control of his future.

J.R. Smith announces he’s re-signing with the Cavaliers

J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith’s return to the Cavaliers was always a matter of when, not if. He opted out of the final year and $6.5 million of his contract, hoping to secure a long-term deal after a solid season in Cleveland. But he found no market this summer after a terrible performance in the Finals, and re-signing with the Cavs seemed inevitable. Smith broke the news on Thursday evening with a post on his Instagram account.

Here’s what Smith said below the picture:

Happy to say that I am returning to the Cavs! It’s been a long ride this summer but I can say for sure, well worth the wait. When I opted out of my contract, I wanted to understand the landscape of the NBA and where I fit best. The Cavaliers had things they needed to do in order to piece together a championship caliber roster. I ended up deciding that instead of potentially securing a larger deal elsewhere, I wanted to rejoin an incredible organization in pursuit of the ultimate goal, an NBA championship. Thank you to the Cavaliers for making this happen. Can’t wait to get started!

It was always unlikely that another team would throw big money at Smith — what his inconsistent three years in New York and solid half-season with the Cavs proved beyond all doubt is that he’s not a first option on offense. He thrives spotting up for open threes, which is all he’s asked to do in a Cavs offense that includes LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Next up for the Cavs: re-signing Tristan Thompson. He has threatened to take the one-year qualifying offer and leave next summer, but the Cavs have no choice but to cave and offer him a max deal.