If J.R. Smith had opted in this summer, he would have made $6.5 million playing in Cleveland. He thought he could get more — he averaged 12.8 points per game after being traded to the Cavs last season, shot 39 percent from three, and played quality defense. Didn’t that merit a raise?
Wednesday Smith signed a new deal that will pay him $5 million this season, although it does give him a player option for the 2016-17 season. The Cavaliers announced it as official.
Smith didn’t have the leverage he thought he did. First, volume shooters such as himself have been going out of style around a league looking for efficiency at every turn. And Smith is a volume shooter. Then getting suspended for the first two games of the NBA Finals, followed by poor play and riding around on a Phunkee Duck when he did return didn’t help his cause.
Smith didn’t have other teams beating down his door, he wanted to stay in Cleveland, and that was going to mean a pay cut. He does have an option for next season, so he picks up a little security and makes more in the long run. But this couldn’t be what he imagined when it all started.