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.
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.
Despite LeBron James’ brilliance, Golden State wins Game 5 to come within one win of title
OAKLAND — LeBron James played the single best game of these NBA Finals Sunday in Oakland. He was otherworldly — he scored or assisted on 26 of the 32 Cleveland buckets. He had 40 points, 11 assists and 14 rebounds, plus played good defense inside. He carried the Cavaliers as far as any player could have. It was an epic Finals effort for the ages.
And it wasn’t enough.
Stephen Curry had his best game of the Finals scoring 36 and taking over late in the fourth dropping 17 in the frame; Andre Iguodala continued his fantastic play all series, and the small ball lineup of the Golden State Warriors got them the pace they wanted. In fact, the Cavaliers had to go small to match them just to stay in the game.
“It’s the way we had to play to have a chance to win the game,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said, noting that lineup kept them close until late while their big lineups were getting torched.
It still didn’t work.
Golden State won Game 5 104-91 and now lead the best-of-seven NBA Finals 3-2. The Warriors can close out the series on the road Tuesday night in Cleveland.
But you can bet LeBron is not going to let that be easy.
“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” Curry said. “The locker room, if you walked in there, was the exact same as after a regular-season win.”
The Cavaliers hung around this one because of LeBron, but in the final five minutes the Warriors pulled away — because of the jump shot.
In answer to a LeBron three that was closer to the half court line than the three point arc (34 feet, according to NBA.com), Curry showed off a shake-and-bake move to create space and drain a three. Then after a stop, Klay Thompson hit a 29 footer, and the Warriors were up five. The Cavs would not quit, they would not let the Warriors run away as they had done so often during the season. LeBron answered with a bucket and, after a stop, he drove and assisted Tristan Thompson for a bucket that made it a one-point game again. LeBron would not let the game go.
But the Warriors’ threes kept raining. Iguodala from the corner. Then Iguodala on the old-school and-one three after an offensive board. That had the lead up to seven.
LeBron drove and drew a foul, but he was clearly gassed at this point. His shots started to come up short, his drives lacking just that little bit of power he had earlier.
Soon came another Curry shake-and-bake three, and the lead was up to 10.
Eventually came another Curry three with 1:24 left that was the dagger, after another ridiculous move.
“It was an incredible play and I enjoyed watching it from my front-row seat,” Draymond Green said. Yet both he and Curry refused to call it a signature play because only the team holding the trophy has those, and they are not holding yet.
But Curry found his groove and the narrative that Matthew Dellavedova was a Curry stopper finally died.
“From the very beginning, when they went small, had their shooters out there, I thought, ‘This is Steph’s night,’” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Curry finished with 36 points on 13-of-23 shooting and hit 7-of-13 from three. After that, the Warriors had balance: 16 points from Draymond Green, 14 from Iguodala, 13 from Leandro Barbosa, 12 from Klay Thompson. The Warriors played their game all around.
“(Curry’s shooting) not why we lost.We gave up 18 fast breakpoints.We gave up 15 second-chance points,” LeBron said. “Steph was special, obviously, but him hitting those step-back threes is not why we lost the game.”
In the first half, it was the LeBron James show.
“He’s phenomenal, he’s doing everything,” Kerr said of LeBron James. “But I’m not enjoying the marveling (at his play).”
After starting 0-of-3, the Warriors hit the next 4-of-5 as they attacked the rim for dunks. They were getting out in transition and getting to the rim with Mozgov pulled out on the perimeter and unsure what to do (and in no position to recover).
The Cavaliers decided to match the Warriors by going small, and it mostly worked. Because of LeBron. — he was otherworldly in the first half.
LeBron had 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the first 24 minutes. He scored or assisted on all but one of the Cavaliers buckets in the first half. He got them to 50 (with JR Smith pitching in and hitting some threes). He also did a good job in the paint protecting the rim.
But all that left the Cavaliers one short after a Harrison Barnes putback dunk, the Warriors were up 51-50 at the break. The Warriors shot 54.1 percent and hit 5-of-10 from three in the first half, Stephen Curry had 15 points hitting 3-of-4 from three.
The third quarter saw LeBron struggle some, getting four points and an assist, as he started to wear down and was missing shots outside the paint. The Cavaliers were getting great play inside from Tristan Thompson, who kept making plays at the rim.
Warriors betting favorites to win NBA Finals, but money pouring in on Cavaliers
On one hand, the Golden State Warriors have been the best team in the NBA all season — 67 wins, No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense in the land. They only lost three games in getting out of the deep Western Conference in the playoffs. They have the MVP in Stephen Curry and the versatility and depth to beat teams in a variety of ways.
On the other hand, the Cavaliers have LeBron James. They also are a team playing their best defense of the season, their role players are stepping up, and they dropped only two games in getting out of the East.
Not surprisingly, the Warriors are the betting favorites heading into the Finals, reports online gambling site bovda.lv. The Warriors are -200 to win the series, meaning you have to bet $200 to win $100. The Cavaliers are +170, meaning bet $100 and you win $170.
The fact there is a better payout — and, again, LeBron James —has the money flowing in on Cleveland.
“I am a bit surprised how one-sided the betting on the finals is with the Cavs taking close to 60 percent of the money,” said Kevin Bradley, the sports book manager for Bovada.lv.
He added the popularity of the teams in this series means his book will likely do double the business they would have gotten from a Rockets/Hawks Finals.
As for Finals MVP… who do you think are the two favorites?
Stephen Curry (GSW) 5/8
LeBron James (CLE) 17/10
Klay Thompson (GSW) 12/1
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 12/1
Draymond Green (GSW) 14/1
JR Smith (CLE) 30/1
Harrison Barnes (GSW) 40/1
Tristan Thompson (CLE) 40/1
Andrew Bogut (GSW) 100/1
Andre Iguodala (GSW) 125/1
If you are betting on J.R. Smith or Iguodala to win the Finals MVP, just donate that money to charity. That way at least it would do some good.