Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
That request doesn’t seem so outlandish to me, but then again, I didn’t expect Smith to have such a hard time in free agency last summer.
Simply, the capped-out Cavaliers have no mechanism to adequately replace Smith if he leaves. They can pay Smith big money, because they have his Bird Rights. They can’t just allocate it to an outside free agent.
This is starting to resemble the Tristan Thompson situation. Thompson, another Rich Paul client, didn’t sign until the fall, even as other teams used all their cap space. Finally, Thompson re-upped with Cleveland in the fall — on a bigger deal than initially offered.
He has plenty of leverage and agent who has repeatedly successfully navigated this road, including with Eric Bledsoe two years ago. Paul always seems geared up for this fight. (By the way, LeBron still hasn’t re-signed.)
Smith started for a championship team, his outside shooting adding a valuable dimension. Really, in this situation, $15 million isn’t an awful price. He’s already 30, so the length of the contract could be a sticking point. But the dollars don’t seem so bad.
The Cavs might be reluctant to pay so much, especially if Smith isn’t getting comparable offers elsewhere. Just a few teams still have that much cap space.
Smith might be reluctant to take less, especially after opting out of a higher salary last year. This is probably his last chance at a monster payday.
So, here we are — both sides incentivized not to budge now, but maybe even more likely to compromise as the season approaches.