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Cavaliers reportedly plan to trade J.R. Smith in June

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J.R. Smith remains in limbo — he’s not playing for the Cavaliers, and he’s not getting bought out in the coming days either. His contract remains the thing Cavaliers management is keeping in its back pocket to make sure they stay below the luxury tax threshold this season and next.

The plan is for the Cavaliers to trade Smith around the draft, and if not waive him then, reports Joe Varden of The Athletic. Just remember, it’s all about the tax line, which the Cavaliers are just barely below right now.

The Cavs’ projected salary for next season includes JR Smith’s $15.8 million. If he’s waived or traded by June 30, he only costs $3.9 million, which would drop Cleveland below the tax line straightaway…

Now, you might counter that the Cavs could buy out JR Smith and get him to leave some money on the table to create some room to operate. But that’s not going to happen because the Cavs have every intention of trying to trade him in June. If they need another body over the last 22 games, there’s always the two-way guys.

In the short term, Cleveland is up against the tax line so they have no roster flexibility, but it’s not like their trying to stack the roster for a playoff run. The Cavs will play the season out with the guys they have, then start making their moves this summer to roll back the roster cost some and start building for the future.

One way or another, Smith will be part of those moves. Come June. Not before.

Report: Blazers trade for Rodney Hood

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It’s not the Anthony Davis news some were hoping for on Super Bowl Sunday, but the NBA’s trade deadline is heating up. On Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers reportedly made a move to grab Rodney Hood from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Portland is sending Cleveland Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin IV, a second round pick in 2021 and another second rounder in 2023.

The trade comes as the Cavaliers continue to try and gather assets, and as Portland looks to solidify their wing rotation heading into the second half of the season.

Via ESPN:

Hood had to agree to the trade because his signing of a one-year, $3.4 million qualifying offer last summer with Cleveland granted him veto rights. He’ll lose his Bird rights in summer free agency, but his enthusiasm for joining the Blazers on a playoff push allowed for his approval of the deal, league sources said. Portland can still re-sign Hood using one of its exceptions. The Blazers are 32-20 and fourth in the Western Conference.

The Blazers have needed wing depth all season long, and Hood brings more to the table than they’ve had there. Portland has always been weak in the Damian Lillard / CJ McCollum era at that spot, particularly after LaMarcus Aldridge exited for San Antonio in the summer of 2015.

Terry Stotts has adapted admirably this year in the face of Maurice Harkless continuing to struggle with knee soreness following surgery in March of 2018. Stotts — who has favored veterans and a shorter rotation during his time in Portland — has gone deeper into his bench this season. It’s also helped that Jake Layman, whose contract was only guaranteed by the Blazers in July, has had a breakout season both as a shooter and as a cutter on offense.

Fans in Portland have been clamoring for a trade to bring a wing to Rip City. Their preference was for a bonafide starter, but GM Neil Olshey doing what he does and swapping parts for an “upside” guy like Hood is perhaps what’s more reasonably available to him.

Hood is averaging 12.2 points per game and shooting 36 percent from 3-point range. His offensive rating is up, but his defense has taken a step back this season in Cleveland. Hood’s on/off numbers suggest he’s actually hurt the Cavs with his play, but that could change given new scenery, the chance to prove himself for a new contract, and a locker room in Portland that is perhaps the franchise’s second or third-best asset behind Lillard.

For Cleveland, trading away Hood is yet another move in a series of decisions to ditch salary and acquire draft picks. The Cavaliers have now swapped Hood, Kyle Korver, George Hill and Sam Dekker, most importantly netting seven draft picks in the process. The team is still looking to move JR Smith and Alec Burks, providing them some cap relief now while the team ramps up for the summer of 2020 when they’ll move some $70+ million off their roster.

The Blazers don’t appear to be headed down the path of adding a major star at the trade deadline, especially with how McCollum has played this season. The shifty shooting guard has played below his standard, and as Portland’s best trade chip, has sort of tanked his own value for the time being. Olshey has made a move that’s in line with their biggest weakness, which shows the team is still trying to improve themselves as they make a push for the playoffs.

Hood isn’t a guarantee by any stretch. He disappointed Utah Jazz fans after years of sputtered development on good teams that won plenty of games. He also played significant minutes in Utah before heading to Cleveland, so it’s not as though he wasn’t given a fair shake. Portland didn’t give up much to get him — Stauskas has been in and out of the lineup the past couple of months and Baldwin has seen time in the G League.

This trade isn’t much to write home about, but it could bear short term benefits for the Blazers and long term flexibility for Cleveland.

Report: Chandler Parsons, Grizzlies mutually agree to separate

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The Chandler Parsons era in Memphis appears to be coming to a close.

The sharp-shooting forward is returning most recently from surgery on the meniscus in his right knee. Parsons told media last week that he’s been medically cleared to play but that the Grizzlies don’t appear to be ready to release him back onto the court.

According to ESPN, Parsons will reportedly leave the Memphis Grizzlies for the foreseeable future.

Via ESPN:

The sides will work to find a trade for Parsons, sources said. The Grizzlies’ haven’t shown a willingness to include a first-round draft pick to move Parsons’ deal but have been open to accepting a longer-term contract for him, league sources said. The team still believes Parsons will have value as an expiring contract, even if it takes into the offseason to make a deal.

The final disagreement that led to Parsons leaving the team and city — perhaps permanently — has been centered around the circumstances of a possible G League assignment.

Parsons has been willing to play games with the G League affiliate but wanted a clearer plan and a timetable in place that would return him to the Grizzlies active roster, league sources said. Trips to the G League for veterans are traditionally treated as rehab assignments, not tryouts.

What this means for Parsons and his massive contract isn’t clear. He’s still got $38 million left on his contract, and he’s not exactly the most moveable piece. Parsons joins JR Smith as the most recent player to simply “leave” the team while waiting for a trade, so perhaps he’ll just be stuck in basketball limbo the rest of the year.

Parsons has played just 73 games in three seasons with the Grizzlies, and his knees were of genuine concern for NBA GMs when he was last up for a contract in the summer of 2016. If a team can get him on the cheap — like, single-digit millions cheap — he’s worth a chance. Failing that, Memphis’ best bet is to trade him as an expiring contract next year.

If they do that, it looks like both sides will simply need to wait.

J.R. Smith says he’ll cover Supreme tattoo, but won’t talk to NBA: ‘I don’t talk to the police’

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Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith expressed plenty of dismay with being told he’d get fined for each game he doesn’t cover his Supreme tattoo.

But he’s backing down and will cover the leg tattoo.

Smith, via Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

“I’m not giving them money that could go to my kids,” Smith told ESPN. “I was looking into (my rights), but the Players Association just texted me, and you know what? I’m not going to put money in their pockets. Not a chance.”

Notice that decision came after hearing from his union – not more discussion with the league.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com

JR Smith said he hasn’t contacted the league regarding the “Supreme” tattoo on his right calf that they asked him to cover up. And he doesn’t plan on having that conversation.

“No. For what?” he asked when approached by cleveland.com in the locker room at TD Garden in Boston Tuesday night. “I don’t talk to the police. That doesn’t do anything for me.”

J.R.!

Unfortunately for Smith, the Collective Bargaining Agreement is pretty clear:

Other than as may be incorporated into his Uniform and the manufacturer’s identification incorporated into his Sneakers, a player may not, during any NBA game, display any commercial, promotional, or charitable name, mark, logo or other identification, including but not limited to on his body, in his hair, or otherwise.

Perhaps he could argue the rule is arbitrarily enforced, as other players have tattoos of brands. But I doubt that’d get him anywhere. He’s making the smart move to keep his money and the fun move to give saucy quotes.

Hopefully for him, he’s getting extra sponsorship money, because the company is getting more publicity from this controversy than it ever would have from Smith showing the tattoo during games.

J.R. Smith gets shirtless as Browns win first game since 2016 (VIDEO)

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LeBron James may be a Los Angeles Laker now, but JR Smith is still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Media day is right around the corner, and so NBA players are trickling in to their respective cities from their offseason locations.

Thankfully for us, Smith is already in Cleveland.

On Thursday night, the Cleveland Browns of the NFL won their first regular season game since Dec. 24, 2016. In attendance was none other than Smith, and lo and behold he was once again shirtless.

Just the way we like him.

Via Twitter:

Smith was famously shirtless in 2016 during the Cavaliers’ championship parade (and seemingly for much of that summer) after they beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Someone even printed out a shirt you could wear that turned you into a shirtless JR.

There probably won’t be much celebrating in Cleveland for Smith this season, and therefore not many reasons for him to get shirtless on everyone. The Browns winning a Thursday night game seems like an appropriate arena for this type of thing now.