It has been about two and a half months since J.R. Smith officially became a free agent, and the veteran shooting guard still doesn’t have a contract for the 2016/17 season. While Smith is expected to re-sign with the Cavaliers eventually, the two sides have yet to strike a deal with training camp right around the corner.
In a conversation with Adam Caparell of Complex Sports, Smith said that he hopes to sign a new contract with the Cavs “soon,” but admitted that even after seeing all the money thrown around in free agency earlier this summer, he doesn’t want to feel like he’s “taking advantage” of the team.
“Obviously we’re not where we want to be at from a personal standpoint,” Smith said. “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.”
We’ve heard throughout the offseason that Smith has been seeking a deal in the range of $15MM annually, while the Cavs’ offer is closer to $10-12MM per year. The gap is small enough that the Cavs and Smith should reach a compromise at some point, particularly since it’s a good fit for both sides — there are no other realistic suitors out there for Smith at his asking price at this point, and the Cavs won’t want to lose another key rotation player from their championship roster after seeing Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov walk in free agency.
Smith, who turned 31 last Friday, started a career-high 77 games for the Cavs during the 2015/16 season, and also started all 21 of the team’s playoff games. During the season, he averaged 12.4 PPG and shot 40.0% from long distance, making 2.6 threes per game. He increased those three-point numbers to 43.0% and 3.1 per game during the postseason.