Cavaliers Waive J.R. Smith

4:03pm: Despite their best efforts to find a favorable trade involving Smith, the Cavaliers came up empty and have waived the veteran shooting guard, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Smith, who will receive his $4.37MM partial guarantee from the Cavs, is on track to clear waivers on Wednesday.

8:46am: Barring a last-minute trade, the Cavaliers are expected to waive J.R. Smith today, reports Joe Vardon of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (via Twitter), Smith’s $15.68MM salary for 2019/20 is currently guaranteed for $4.37MM. That partial guarantee would increase to $5.12MM if he remains under contract beyond today. His deal would become fully guaranteed if he’s not waived by July 31.

By cutting Smith today, the Cavs could slip about $2.85MM below the luxury tax line, assuming they stretch his partial guarantee across three seasons, Marks notes (via Twitter).

Smith, who turns 34 in September, hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since last November, having reached an agreement to part ways with the rebuilding Cavaliers. However, Cleveland chose not to release him until now because his contract – signed under the old CBA – had the potential to be used in a trade with a team looking to create cap flexibility.

In an article published in March, we explained the appeal of Smith’s partially guaranteed deal, while also outlining why its value as a trade chip may be limited due to the Cavs’ proximity to the tax threshold for 2019/20.

Smith’s contract was originally scheduled to become fully guaranteed on June 30, but he agreed to push his guarantee deadline back in exchange for a slight increase to his partial guarantee. As we relayed over the weekend, Cleveland still had no luck finding a taker for him on the trade market.

Assuming Smith is officially released today, he’ll clear waivers on Wednesday and will become an unrestricted free agent at that point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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53 thoughts on “Cavaliers Waive J.R. Smith

    • KnicksFanCavsFan

      In a trade scenario it’s not about what he can or can’t do on the floor. It’s about using his contract in a trade so the acquiring team can create salary cap space.

  1. MiserablePadreFan

    Lakers. The King is the only man that can tame the beast known as JRS.

  2. bowserhound

    Where in the world is Kyle Korver? Hope he takes the last spot on the Lakers roster so we can stop talking about JRS.

  3. KnicksFanCavsFan

    Who cares about JR Smith the player. If Altman can’t find a creative way to use Smith or any of the half dozen expiring contracts to gain assets then he shouldn’t be a GM. In a salary cap strapped league there’s gotta be teams looking to create cap space and Smith’s contract can do that. Smh.

    • The Ghost of Bobby Bonilla

      Tend to agree. Koby seems like he’s way over his head in being a GM. Here are his big accomplishments:

      1) Acquire a broken down Isaiah Thomas and a pick which became Colin Sexton for Kyrie. Despite reports that the Bucks were offering Middleton, Brogdon+ for him.
      2) Trade with the Lakers to open up just enough cap space for the Lakers to sign LeBron out from under him;
      3) Resign Kevin Love to a massive, overpay deal that has negative value and is basically untradeable.
      4) Turn down an offer of a late 1st on Draft Night for J.R.’s contract (which he called one of their best assets), because he thought a better deal was out there. Then, turn around and gift J.R. another $500k for two more weeks to find a deal, but still couldn’t do it.
      5) Put together the biggest collection of expiring deals (TT, JR, Clarkson, Knight, Henson, Delly, Osman) and fail in trading any of them for picks or other assets to rebuild.
      6) FINALLY, current sitting with the least amount of cap space in the entire league, with this current team. Wow.

      • victorg

        yall are spot on about Altman he may be the very worst GM in NBA right now.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          @victorg He hasn’t done enough to call him the worst. There are clearly guys that have proven their inability.


          I don’t blame him for the Kyrie situation. At the time the most coveted aspect of the trade was Brooklyn’s #1. No way to know that Brooklyn would be a half-way decent team that drew the pick out of being a possible #1 overall. The trade for LBJ too. LBJ was going regardless.

      • TroyMcClure

        1) The only coveted aspect of that trade was the Brooklyn pick. IT was, to a degree, a “throw in” because the PG position was solidified with KI and Rozier. Hindsight being 20/20, at the time, the Bucks trade package wasn’t highly thought of. Middleton was solid, Brogdon was injured and the pick was slated to be in the lower part of the 1st round.
        2) Even David Griffin stated the overall sentiment in the organization was LBJ was gone after his last Cavs contract. Hence why the Brooklyn pick was so coveted by the Cavs. The assumed feeling was this pick would help “accelerate” the rebuild (it didn’t) or if LBJ committed to an extension, used in a trade for an established player.
        3) It wasn’t a “massive” deal in anyway, I’d argue it was going rate. If (a big “if”) Love stays healthy for the first half a the year, the Cavs will probably receive a borderline acceptable trade package for Love from a team that struck out during the past free agent bonanza.
        4) Not utilizing the JR contract is inexcusable. The Cavs should have cut him before the 30th once a trade didn’t materialize, instead of paying him more. Not every move a GM makes is going to be good though. Without knowing what the exact packages on the table were, it’s hard to crucify him for not trading JR.
        5) To a degree, expiring contracts are overrated. Right now, no team is giving up an asset of any value for any of the expiring contracts the Cavs have. The best bet is to wait until the deadline, and hope that JC and TT are playing well enough to move for picks/young player.
        6) Currently, the roster is a mix of players brought in during LBJ’s stay, taking on a bad contracts for assets and rookies / 1st year players. After this season, the Cavs will have $55 million in space to sign no one of worth. This is pretty much the same scenario as when LBJ left after his first stay, minus the No. 1 overall pick.

        • x%sure

          1) The MIL option included someone who could defend Durant. That was a simple need but possibly priority #1 since the previous finals, and was never solved. Jae Crowder was not it. I say simple because Durant did not have to be stopped, just contained. As a result of matchups, both James and Love were exposed vs GSW. Every thing was about beating GSW then until the time came to do something about it.

          2) Correct about the BRK pick but the idea behind it was dead wrong. It’s purpose should have been to finish out the James window with another title. Instead it was left unused as the Cavs fell.

          GhostBB is right about the shocking trade. And Clarkson & Nance were of no help for the window.

          It is possible Gilbert was willing to sacrifice a title that would always be credited to James, for a remote possible future title that he would get greater credit for. Well egos are part of the game. But Altman standing up to Gilbert and building for the window… not likely.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          The #1 overall pick wasn’t their own pick. It was a pick they acquired in a salary dump for Baron Davis from the Clippers. So yeah, it does work. Their were other trades this past month or so for picks and expiring deals. But you are right that we don’t know what the offers were but seeing that other trades for picks were made and no one intend to keep Smith even if traded it makes me scratch my head.

      • The 1st round pick you talk about sounds great but what both of us don’t know is what was the price the Cavs would’ve had to take on with the players they’d received. The Cavs needed to dump Jr first and foremost so they wouldn’t be over the cap. Secondly even though he’d be off the books, the Cavs would NOT have the room to take on the bad contracts that came along with the #1 pick.

    • moazetongue

      You guys make KI out to be the great Celtic leader that has achieved championship level. He be gone to the Nets.

      And let’s not forget the assets the GM also got back from the Celtics that allowed them to make the trade to LA in order to do dump IT. To be honest. Last year Clarkson and Nance were at least fun players to watch compared to IT and Frye.

  4. victorg

    I don’t think LeBron wants him anymore and they don’t need him NOW with Bradley and green … I could see the ROX use him but I just don’t think he bring enough value anymore he is pretty much Nick Young.

  5. dirtbagfreitas

    Cheap shooter for the Sixers or Bucks maybe? I’m not sure either team wants that potential headache though.

    • moazetongue

      Has to have someone stronger willed than JR to keep him in place. And JR has to respect him. I know it sounds goofy but that’s it.

  6. mitchrapp

    As good of a golfer as JR is I hope he joins the PGA tour. Don’t laugh the man’s got golfing skills

  7. x%sure

    To paraphrase DXC: for any other team, the Smith contract was always going to take a backseat in attractiveness to (1) trading unwanted salary into capspace (renting space under another team’s cap) and (2) acquiring trade exceptions.

    (2) was the killer last stab for a Smith contract trade, going hand in hand with all the unexpected S&Ts. Hard to have predicted, but (1) should have been. I have read no indication Altman (or the media) saw this coming except to remark on slow demand for the contract.

    As it happens the market for capspace did pretty much run out, which should have caused a pivot to Smith, but for a few crucial pinched teams the $4mil guaranteed portion was a dealbreaker. As for the robust trade exception “market”– ouch.

    Also crucially, there was so much overall activity this season that a team like Portland could just glom onto other team’s trades and accomplish their goals that way.

    It’s not a huge fail for Altman but there is a lack of wins so far. The Cavs lost 3(?) 2nds to get Porter but I like he’s aboard.

  8. dtrainriotmaker

    Possible teams the 76ers , certainly could use some bench scoring , the bucks perhaps , rockets , pacers , trailblazers , nets ?

    • KnicksFanCavsFan

      His contract WAS a trade asset that’s why it’s disappointing it wasn’t used. it has nothing to do with Smith as a player. if traded he absolutely would’ve been cut. really no debate about it.

      • SuperSinker

        His contract was such a valuable trade asset that he wasn’t traded for? Logic checks out lol

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          just because a trade didn’t happen didnt negate the value. how you can argue trading away a $15 mil contract for one that essentially only will cost you $5 mil thus creating $10 mil in cap space as not an asset boggles the mind.

  9. OCTraveler

    Sure the Lakers will sign him – it is a part of their plan to sign anybody that worships at the altar of King James.

  10. kaptain k

    Stop with the laker talk. Lebron hates JR for the stunt he pulled at the finals. For sure not a Laker. Maybe a Clipper, but I doubt it still because JR is too wild and unpredictable on the court. Can’t stay consistent.

  11. A big thank you to J.R. for his part in winning the ship in 2016. W/o JR, the Cavs don’t win. Too bad he couldn’t replicate as old age has caught up to him.

  12. zdaley22

    I wouldn’t mind him moving to either the Rockets or Mavs.. coming off the bench. He definitely isn’t a crucial starter, but JR can make some crucial buckets.

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