So, he remains unsigned with training camp approaching.
He has no idea when he’ll sign with the Cavaliers—“Soon, I hope,” he says. Cleveland is realistically the only team Smith can sign with for the money he’s looking for. So what’s the hold up?
“Well, obviously we’re not where we want to be at from a personal standpoint,” says Smith. “But it’s more than just numbers. I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of the Cavs for everything they’ve done for me, and I don’t want them to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. It’s more of a mutual respect thing.”
This is why Smith has an agent – and a good one, at that. It might be uncouth to publicly say you want to take advantage of your employer, but Rich Paul can do it for Smith in negotiations.
Smith is by far the best player Cleveland, a championship contender, can sign now. Sharing an agent with LeBron James also helps. But the Cavaliers know no other team is positioned to make a comparable offer.
Both sides have leverage – and both should work it. The Cavs sure took advantage of Smith last year when he made the mistake of opting out. He shouldn’t worry about returning the favor – even if he feels he should present of a kinder public face.