Just like last summer, J.R. Smith might be holding out for big money and an offer from another team, but in the end, it doesn’t make any sense for him and the Cleveland Cavaliers not to stay together.
The initial demands for a new, $15 million-a-season contract haven’t gotten Smith anywhere. He won’t get that kind of money from other teams, despite the rising salary cap. Interested partners don’t have the cap space anymore, and on one was going to pay him that kind of money anyway. The Cavaliers, a luxury tax team again, aren’t going to pay him that kind of money knowing it translates into a whole lot more.
So what’s going to be the meeting point? The Cavaliers have offered what is reportedly a $10-12 million annually offer, which sounds about right. Even if Smith is hoping to see his name next to the headlines reporting ridiculous deals, there just isn’t another option for him out there, not with this kind of money on the table. The only question now is how long of a contract it’ll be, with Smith one week before his 31st birthday, entering his 13th NBA season.
Defending NBA champions or not, the Cavaliers can’t afford to lose someone like Smith – they won’t find someone as good in the free agency market. Smith averaged 12.4 points while shooting 40% from three during 77 regular season games. He averaged 11.5 points while shooting 43% from beyond the arc during the playoffs through 21 games, helping the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, winning the franchise’s first championship.
Smith has had a bigger role while playing for the New York Knicks, but he admitted playing in Cleveland has been better for him. Not just competing for titles and playing next to LeBron James, but having less distractions that affect his game in the long run. Maybe in time he’ll find somewhere better to play at, but for now, even without making the kind of money he wishes he would, the Cavaliers remain the best option for him.