Just like last year, J.R. Smith is waiting for a big offer to come his way, but the Cleveland Cavaliers might not be inclined to give him one.
Even with the rising salary cap, the demands from Smith to make $15 million a season (according to reports) seem to be steep, after he did make $5 million last season. However, when you consider the other salaries given out and what Smith contributed to the team last season, it isn’t that bad. There aren’t too many great options out there anyway, so will the Cavaliers actually let him walk? I don’t see anyone else giving him that kind of deal anyway.
Smith averaged 12.4 points while shooting 40% from beyond the arc in the regular season, with his numbers pretty much the same in the playoffs, although he did bring his accuracy up to 43%. He played over 37 minutes per game in the Finals, scoring 10.6 points per game and shooting 35.6% from beyond the arc, but his defense came through and he scored 10 points or more in each of the final five games, which the Cavaliers won four of.
The Cavaliers need to think, as always, about the luxury tax, although it’s at a workable $113 million next season. Right now, they’re paying $79 million, but that doesn’t include LeBron James, who’ll take them over $100 million once he decides to sign, and giving Smith what he wants will put them over the threshold. Considering they’ve added Chris Andersen , signing draft pick Kay Felder probably and maybe making more additions, they’ll be other the threshold, which is something they would like to avoid for once.
Just like last season, James might be sitting out and waiting for the Cavaliers to make all of the signing before jumping back in with a 1+1 contract (surely he’ll do that and not the five-year deal now, right?), which means it’s all about retaining Smith at this point. Smith has been relatively injury free since the 2011-2012 season, so his health isn’t the issue here, and neither is his age (he’s 30). The only thing that is stopping the Cavaliers is finances, and making other minor signings before bringing back their last two major unsigned players. And yes, wrapping their heads around the new prices, which means giving Smith $15 million a year, is difficult at times.