Report: ‘Only a matter of time’ until Smith starts looking elsewhere

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J.R. Smith was rumored to be looking at only the Cavaliers in free agency.

But both sides remain in a stalemate not even LeBron James can break.

What’s next?

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources say it’s only a matter of time before Smith starts engaging with other teams.

Smith still remains likely to re-sign with the Cavs. He’d help immensely with their title defense, and if they lose him, they wouldn’t have cap space or resources to adequately replace him. But this could force them to increase their offer sooner.

The 76ers, Nets, Nuggets, Suns, Timberwolves and Jazz have enough cap flexibility to make realistic offers for Smith. That none have yet is telling, though that could be because he has signaled such a firm intention to stay in Cleveland. If Smith appears serious about leaving – and this report doesn’t mean he is – that could generate more meaningful outside interest.

The Celtics are reportedly interested in Smith, but they have neither the cap space or regular-season roster vacancy to sign him. As the up-and-comer in the East, they also have an interest in tying up the Cavaliers as much as possible in future years.

But, with so many teams holding cap space, there’s the possibility of a team – including Boston – trading away salary to clear space for Smith. If he explores the market, who knows what he’ll find?

Maybe even a better offer from the Cavs.