The Cavaliers have traded veterans George Hill and Kyle Korver in the past two weeks, and J.R. Smith appears to be the next priority, tweets Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Rockets and Pelicans have expressed interest in Smith, according to O’Connor, who notes that both teams need to fortify their wing depth.
Smith hasn’t played since an “amicable” breakup with the Cavs on November 20, and his representatives are working with the team to find a trade. He fell victim to a youth movement in Cleveland and saw his playing time cut to about 20 minutes per night in the 11 games he has gotten into this season.
In addition to his considerable playoff experience, Smith’s contract beyond this season could make him attractive to a contender. He has just a $3.87MM guarantee on his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20, so there is limited long-term risk in acquiring him.
There’s more today out of Cleveland:
- The Cavaliers who played alongside Matthew Dellavedova during his first stint in Cleveland are thrilled to welcome him back, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Reacquired from the Bucks in the Hill trade, Dellavedova was admired by his teammates for his intensity and competitiveness. “I think of his toughness and his ability to change the pace of the game and his familiarity,” Channing Frye said. “He’s a champion, consummate professional, good for our locker room.”
- Coach Larry Drew’s decision to put Hill back into the starting lineup when he returned from a shoulder injury may have helped raise his trade value, Fedor suggests in the same piece. Drew has been experimenting with rookie guard Collin Sexton in an off-the-ball role and wanted Hill beside him to run the offense. The move showed the Bucks that Hill was fully healed and able to contribute.
- Dellavedova will inherit Hill’s role as Sexton’s mentor, Fedor writes in a separate story. Those who remember Dellavedova’s spirited practice sessions with Kyrie Irving expect Sexton to get the same experience. “He will be good for Collin on the days that we do practice, he will be good for Collin because of the way he plays, how scrappy he is,” Tristan Thompson said. “When he gets in, it’s those kinds of plays that he makes, it’s momentum swings and high energy so we will definitely embrace that.”