Central Notes: J.R. Smith, Harris, Ish Smith, Pacers

Contract length was the sticking point more than salary in the long standoff between J.R. Smith and the Cavaliers, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Smith’s impasse ended Friday night when he agreed to a new three-year, $45MM pact with a non-guaranteed fourth season. Because of the luxury tax, Smith’s $12.8MM salary for this season will cost the Cavs about $39MM. The tax is why Cleveland didn’t match Milwaukee’s four-year, $40MM offer to Matthew Dellavedova, Pluto notes, as the front office decided it was too expensive to keep both.

Pluto also casts doubt on reports that the Cavs were motivated to get a deal done with Smith because he was negotiating with the Sixers, saying that Philadelphia had plenty of cap room to make Smith an offer any time during the summer if it had been interested and that Smith doesn’t fit with the rest of the Sixers’ young roster.

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons are optimistic that Tobias Harris will be even better with the benefit of a full training camp, according to Lang Green of Basketball Insiders. Detroit roared into the playoffs last season with a 17-11 record after the All-Star break, and a big reason was the acquisition of Harris from Orlando at the trade deadline. “Tobias has been great,” said coach/executive Stan Van Gundy. “He came [into training camp] in unbelievable shape, worked really hard all summer and is just moving along playing two positions. Again, a guy that’s really tried to take to heart everything we’ve been talking about. He’s really been trying to work harder defensively, I mean, [he’s] exactly the kind of guy you want.”
  • New Pistons point guard Ish Smith says he wasn’t upset that the Sixers didn’t keep him, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. Smith, who started 50 games for Philadelphia last year after a midseason deal, texted Sixers coach Brett Brown frequently during the offseason. “We were losing,” Brown said of Smith. “He gave us an injection when we needed it the most and he gave us hope.” (Twitter link)
  • With three new starters, the Pacers are using the preseason to help everyone get acquainted, writes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Two offseason trades brought in Jeff Teague as the new point guard and Thaddeus Young as the new power forward. Second-year center Myles Turner has also been promoted to the starting lineup. All five played more than 32 minutes in Friday’s game with Orlando as the players learn to adjust to each other. “We have an open offense, where every player is a playmaker and every player has the ability to make plays,” said Paul George. “It might be my shots are going to come down, because it’s more of a free-flowing offense. That’s part of what I have to figure out. Do I try to remain consistent with my shots (from last season) or go with the game flow.”

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