Tag: J.R. Smith

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

J.R. Smith is still a free agent, about to take a healthy pay cut


When J.R. Smith opted out of his $6.4 million contract with Cavaliers for next season, he and his agent thought he would get paid. After all, he had averaged 12.8 points per game in the regular season after being traded to the Cavs, he shot 39 percent from three, and he played quality defense. He played well through most of the playoffs, although getting suspended for the first two games of the Finals (and then having a rough series when he returned, and riding around on a Phunkee Duck) didn’t help his cause. Still, LeBron James was reportedly in his corner, the Cavaliers were going to pay up, right?

Smith is still a free agent on July 19.

The Cavaliers would have been happy if he opted in, but when he chose to become a free agent the Cavaliers decided to look around, too. From Terry Pluto at the Plain Dealer.

When Smith turned down the option for next season, the Cavs weren’t thrilled. At that point, they seriously began looking for another option at shooting guard….

The wise move for Smith would have been to pick up his option. Then go have a good season with LeBron James & Company. Then become a free agent in the “Money Summer” of 2016 when the salary cap will rise at least 30 percent.

Former Nets executive (and summer NBA Twitter sensation) Bobby Marks noted there is even a more fundamental lesson here.

What the Cavaliers want now from Smith is a below-market one-year deal. The reason is they are deep into the luxury tax and every dollar now spent on Smith multiplies because tax — a $4 million contract for Smith adds $14 million to the Cavaliers tax. That’s $18 million next year for J.R. Smith. You can see why the Cavaliers are hesitant (this is also slowing the Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson talks).

Smith is hoping that another team out there will give him leverage, but the market has been pretty dry.

In the end, I expect Smith and the Cavaliers to reach some deal — he played well for them last season, they could use his depth off the bench.

But I bet Smith would like to have his decision over.

According to the numbers, J.R. Smith plays better after Lil Wayne releases an album

Lil' Wayne

It’s well-known that J.R. Smith shoots three percent worse on Sundays than his career averages, a stat that makes perfect sense because of Smith’s known affinity for nightlife. But there’s something else, not quite as frequent, that actually flips Smith’s numbers the other way: new Lil Wayne projects. Smith has gone on the record before in saying that Wayne is his favorite rapper:

According to Hashtag Important’s Kenny Ducey, Smith has performed above his career averages in most categories after a Weezy project is released. Here’s the proof:

Here’s what Ducey had to say about his findings:

Now, I can’t guarantee J.R. listened to these albums and mixtapes before he played in his next game. I can say, though, his shot totals show he’s a bit juiced up in these contests. One thing that was evident during the study was that J.R. hit a hot streak a couple of these times. Most notably, his 32-pt showing in Boston in 2013 was followed by a 35-pt outing, and then a 37-pt performance.

There’s no definitive proof, but nobody would be surprised if this was a catalyst for Smith. Cavs fans have to hope that Tha Carter V, which is still without a release date, comes out during next year’s Finals.

Report: Cavs still undecided about bringing over Russian center Sasha Kaun

Mirza Begic, Sasha Kaun

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has spent freely to put a contender around LeBron James, retaining key pieces from last season’s Finals run and adding Mo Williams. But Cleveland isn’t done making moves yet: they still have a few decisions to make about players who were on their roster last year, and according to a new report, they’re undecided about bringing over Russian big man Sasha Kaun, whose rights they own.

From Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon:

The Cavaliers “aren’t in a hurry” to make a decision on Russian center Sasha Kaun, a league source told the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Cleveland front office personnel dined with the 7-foot Kaun Friday night in Las Vegas after he watched the team’s Summer League finale courtside with LeBron James and coach David Blatt, among others.

The Cavs control Kaun’s NBA rights and could pay him at least the veteran’s minimum of $525,000, in addition to the roughly $1.3 million left of the team’s taxpayer’s salary cap exception, if they so chose. They invited Kaun to Las Vegas to start the dialogue about possibly playing for Cleveland next season.

The Cavs can offer Kaun $1.3 million, but even that reasonable amount of money will carry a hefty luxury tax bill. They still have yet to re-sign Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova, all of whom are likely to be back. And with new deals already signed for LeBron James, Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert, plus Kyrie Irving’s $90 million extension kicking in, Cleveland’s payroll is already at $88 million just on deals they’ve already completed. Thompson’s inevitable deal at close to max will bring things well over $100 million, and Smith will probably command a sizeable deal as well. It might make more sense for the Cavs to wait until next summer, when the salary cap is much higher, to bring over Kaun. He probably won’t play much this year anyway.

Knicks re-sign Lou Amundson

Shelvin Mack, Lou Amundson

The Knicks acquired Lou Amundson as a throw-in in the J.R. Smith-Iman Shumpert-Dion Waiters trade, and they promptly waived him.

Then they re-signed him to a 10-day contract. Then another. Then eventually for the rest of the season.

New York apparently just can’t quit him.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

The New York Knicks and veteran big man Lou Amundson have agreed to a one-year, $1.65 million deal, Amundson’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Saturday.

Amundson’s minimum salary next season is $1,362,897, so unless that’s some generous rounding, the Knicks used cap space or the room exception to sign him. The best projection seems to be they used cap space, which leaves the $2,814,000 room exception for someone else.

At 32, Amundson had some nice moments for the Knicks providing hustle last season. He even started 35 games. With Robin Lopez signing in New York, Amundson should see a lesser role, which should serve the Knicks well. He was overextended at times last year.

Amundson is fighting aging, but fewer minutes against starters should help.

As long he can remain so energetic, he’s nice to have around.

LeBron on Cavaliers’ off-season: “It’s been good so far, but we have a lot of work to do”

LeBron James

LeBron James used his free agency to leverage the Cleveland Cavaliers management to improve the team this off-season. Whether he needed to put on that show or not (he didn’t), owner Dan Gilbert is going to break out the checkbook. The Cavaliers will have the highest payroll in the land next season — 0ne that includes a hefty luxury tax bill that will push the Cavs’ up to $200 million or so spent on players.

So what does LeBron think of the efforts to re-sign Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert (and himself), plus get Mo Williams?

It’s a good start, but he wants to see more, he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN at an Akron premiere of his movie “Trainwreck.”

“It’s been good so far, but we have a lot of work to do,” said James, who co-stars in the movie, when asked about the Cavs’ offseason. “We still got to re-sign Tristan [Thompson]. Hopefully we can bring back J.R. [Smith] as well and see if there’s some other free agents out there that’d love to come here and play if we’re able to do that.

“We definitely don’t want to come back the same team. We want to come back better. But right now, we’ve been doing so far, so good.”

The Tristan Thompson deal will likely get done. Eventually. There’s a gap between the two sides — Thompson reportedly wants Draymond Green level money (five years, $85 million), while the Cavaliers realize he isn’t worth that much. Thompson and LeBron share an agent, so LeBron can lean on the Cavs to get a deal done, while Thompson has to know there are few teams left with the cap space to make him an offer sheet in the ballpark he wants. The sides will figure it out.

J.R. Smith could be a different story. The Cavaliers have a great trade chip in the expiring $10.5 million contract of Brendan Haywood, and they are shopping it around looking for wing depth. If they find a deal for a player less erratic than Smith, then they may not be as eager to re-sign him. At least at a price that Smith would like.

The biggest advantage the Cavaliers have going into next season is continuity — a second year with the core playing together, a second year working with coach David Blatt. The second half of last season the Cavaliers started to figure it out, they were an offensive juggernaut, and they might have won it all if not for playoff injuries to Love and Kyrie Irving. Next season they will be better just for having had those experiences and time together.

But the roster will be deeper, too. LeBron should be happy.