When the calendar turns from August to September tonight, J.R. Smith will have officially been on the free agent market for two months. Smith is the highest-profile player still available, having started nearly 100 total games (regular season and playoffs) for the eventual champs last season, so it’s worth checking in on him to see where things stand at the two-month mark.
While one report from mid-July suggested that Smith was seeking a $15MM annual salary, the Cavaliers’ offer doesn’t appear to be in that range, which is understandable. There probably aren’t any other teams in the NBA with the cap space and the willingness to go that high for Smith. Plus, the Cavs are already in luxury-tax territory and would have to go way beyond the tax threshold to complete such a deal, making the cost to the franchise much more expensive than just $15MM.
Still, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), the Cavs have put an offer on the table believed to be worth in the range of $10-12MM annually. As Kyler adds in a second tweet, the two sides aren’t all that far apart, and are still expected to eventually reach an agreement — it’s simply a matter of finding a compromise on dollars and years.
Since Smith isn’t missing out on any pay checks at the moment and the Cavs likely won’t find a viable alternative to him at this point in the offseason, there isn’t much urgency yet for either the team or player to get something done. However, that could change in the coming weeks, with training camp and the preseason right around the corner, so it will be a situation worth watching in September.
In 2015/16, Smith averaged 11.5 PPG and shot 43.0% on three-pointers in the postseason after having averaged 12.4 PPG with a .400 3PT% during the regular season. The veteran shooting guard, who turns 31 next Friday, started 77 regular-season games for Cleveland, as well as all 21 of the team’s postseason contests.