J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith No Longer With Cavaliers

12:39pm: The Cavaliers have officially confirmed that Smith will no longer be with the team as the club and Smith’s reps work to resolve his situation. Within their press release, the Cavs thanked Smith for his contributions to the franchise, including his role in the 2016 championship.

12:21pm: Veteran guard J.R. Smith will no longer be actively with the Cavaliers, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic (Twitter links), who reports that Smith will work out on his own going forward. Smith’s camp and the Cavs are working together to find a trade, Vardon says, adding that a buyout is not a consideration at this point. Vardon describes the breakup as “amicable.”

The Cavaliers reportedly gave Smith the opportunity to take time away from the club earlier in the season, but he turned down the offer at the time — it seems he has reconsidered it now. This development doesn’t come as a huge surprise after Smith made comments suggesting that the Cavs weren’t trying to win, and that he didn’t want to be part of a team if its goal wasn’t “to compete, to win.”

Smith had been a regular part of Cleveland’s rotation over the last couple weeks, but played just six minutes in Monday’s loss to the Pistons. It appears those will be his last minutes for the team for a while – perhaps ever – as he’ll be pulled from the rotation for the third time this season. The Cavaliers have been somewhat indecisive so far in 2018/19 about whether to play their veterans or focus on developing their young prospects, but they appear to be moving more and more toward the latter path.

While Smith is very much on the market, it won’t be easy for the Cavs to find a trade partner. The 33-year-old is off to a very poor start to the season, with just 6.7 PPG on .342/.308/.800 shooting in 11 games (20.2 MPG). He’s also earning a $14.72MM salary in 2018/19.

On the plus side, while Smith remains under contract for one more year beyond this season, his 2019/20 salary, worth $15.68MM, is only partially guaranteed for $3.87MM, so it’d be relatively inexpensive to cut him loose at season’s end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

J.R. Smith Wants Trade From Cavs, Resisting Buyout

Nearly three weeks after he first confirmed that he’d welcome a trade out of Cleveland, J.R. Smith continues to seek a deal, having asked twice to be moved, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. The veteran guard made it clear during a conversation with Lloyd that he doesn’t believe the Cavaliers are interested in winning, and doesn’t want to play for a team that’s not trying to win.

“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”

Asked if he’s interested in being part of the rebuilding process in Cleveland, Smith replied, “Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win.”

The Cavaliers insisted throughout the offseason, even as LeBron James headed to Los Angeles, that they still believed they could compete in the Eastern Conference — if not for a spot in the Finals, then at least for a playoff berth. Shortly after the regular season got underway, the Cavs seemingly shifted gears and started to focus on developing young players like Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman. However, in the view of vets like Smith and George Hill, that was probably the plan even before the season started.

“I think it re-calibrated before Game 1 was even played,” Hill said of the club’s outlook for 2018/19. “In the summer, it felt like politically you have to say we can still do these things because you want everyone to buy in to being here. Once everybody is here, I don’t know. The directions change.”

While the Cavs would probably have just as much interest as Smith in a deal that sends him elsewhere, his contract – which includes a $14.72MM cap hit for this season – isn’t favorable, especially given his slow start (his 6.7 PPG and .342 FG% would be career lows). Lloyd suggests that if Smith were willing to surrender some of the guaranteed money left on his deal, a buyout would be an option, but the 33-year-old has refused to go down that road so far.

“I don’t want my legacy to be remembered like that in Cleveland,” Smith said of a buyout. “I don’t think that’s fair to the people I see every single day walking around the arena. I don’t think that’s fair to the trainers or equipment guys. … I just look at it differently than being traded. I don’t like the statement of getting bought out.”

The Cavs figure to continue exploring the trade market for Smith in the coming weeks and months. If they can’t find a suitable deal by the February 7 deadline, perhaps Smith would become more inclined to negotiate a buyout in an effort to join a contender.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Moore, J.R. Smith, G. Robinson III

A week-long delay in completing the Victor Oladipo trade last summer could cost him a significant amount of money down the line and may affect whether he remains with the Pacers, according to Danny Leroux of The Athletic. The deal that sent Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to Indiana in exchange for Paul George was agreed to on June 30, 2017, but couldn’t be completed right away due to the poison pill provision impacting Oladipo’s contract.

Because the NBA calendar starts on July 1, Oladipo was considered to be traded during his fifth year in the league. That’s significant because the Designated Veteran extension outlined in the latest collective bargaining agreement excludes players who have been dealt after their first four seasons. Designated Veteran extensions allow players to receive a starting salary worth up to 35% of the cap, rather than the standard 30%, provided they were recently named MVP, Defensive Player of the Year or made an All-NBA team.

Oladipo will be eligible for a 20% raise on his $21MM salary in 2020/21 or a new deal in 2021/22 that begins at 30% of that year’s cap. Although the situation saves money for the Pacers, it also lessens their financial advantage once Oladipo becomes a free agent. Leroux notes that Oladipo will become eligible for an extension of his current deal on October 31 of next year. Indiana may try to work out a new contract then and avoid the free agency experience.

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • After being waived by the Pacers on Saturday, Ben Moore has joined the team’s G League affiliate in Fort Wayne, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. Moore hadn’t played this season and got into a pair of games as a two-way player last year.
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, who has been told twice this season that he was being removed from the rotation, will make his first start of the year tonight, coach Larry Drew says in a video tweeted by Cleveland.com. Injuries to Kevin Love and Sam Dekker have forced the Cavs to adjust their lineup, with Smith getting the starting nod at small forward and Cedi Osman moving to power forward.
  • The Pistons are also making a lineup change, with offseason addition Glenn Robinson III taking Stanley Johnson‘s spot in the starting five, relays Rod Beard of The Detroit News. The move is being made to add more shooting to a unit that has been frequently misfiring, adds Ansar Khan of MLive.

Cavs Rumors: Rozier, Korver, Smith, Rotation

The Cavaliers are among the teams with interest in Celtics point guard Terry Rozier, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. As we relayed earlier today, there are reportedly at least seven teams around the NBA monitoring Rozier, who is said to be unhappy with his playing time. It sounds like it’s safe to assume that Cleveland is one of those seven teams.

Of course, the Cavs used the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 draft on Collin Sexton, a player they hope will be capable of developing into their point guard of the future. Sexton’s still very early in his developmental process though, and plenty of teams around the NBA use lineups that feature more than one point guard, so that doesn’t mean that Rozier couldn’t be a fit in Cleveland.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • During a recent appearance on The Jump (video link; hat tip to AmicoHoops.net), ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said that he expects trade interest to be much stronger for Kyle Korver than J.R. Smith, but cautions that Korver would be more attractive as a trade chip if he was on a true expiring contract, rather than having a partial guarantee for next season. Wojnarowski expects the Cavaliers to be able to move both players, but suggests they shouldn’t expect more than a second-round pick for either, and may have to take on some money.
  • The Cavaliers don’t seem to view Larry Nance Jr. as a potential four, and Channing Frye only works in certain matchups, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who suggests that the team may lean more heavily on smaller power forwards with Kevin Love and Sam Dekker sidelined. Cedi Osman, Korver, and Smith are among the candidates.
  • Cavaliers veterans are happy that the team agreed to renegotiate Larry Drew‘s contract, creating some certainty at the head coaching position for this season, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “It’s just good to know they made a decision, for me,” Nance said. “It lets you go forward. I think some progress can be made.”

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Drew, Smith, Korver

The Cavaliers are in a state of chaos that stretches from the front office to their first-round draft pick, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The four-time defending Eastern Conference champs dropped to 1-8 last night after their latest lopsided loss, a 32-point blowout in Charlotte, and there seems little chance of righting the ship without a major roster upheaval.

There’s a significant divide in the locker room between players who are holdovers from the LeBron James era and the younger talent that management sees as the team’s future, Vardon adds. The focal point is 19-year-old Collin Sexton, who was taken with the eighth pick in this year’s draft. Any time a veteran talks about someone not knowing their role or where to be on the court, it’s usually a reference to Sexton, Vardon states.

Sexton is shooting 41.3% from the field through his first nine games and has about an equal number of assists and turnovers. However, he still has the backing of owner Dan Gilbert, who wants Sexton to keep playing, according to Vardon. Also, Sexton knows he has a future with the organization, unlike many of his veteran critics.

There’s more out of Cleveland, all courtesy of Vardon:

  • A week after firing Tyronn Lue, the Cavs still doesn’t have an official interim head coach. Larry Drew is running the team, but retains his title of associate head coach while trying to negotiate an increase in his salary. The front office offered a modest raise after Lue was dismissed, but Drew is holding out for a contract extension for himself and his assistants. When management refused, Drew went public with his demands. The players support Drew, but they don’t view him as an official head coach because of the contract standoff.
  • Through nine games, J.R. Smith has been told twice that he was being taken out of the rotation, then was quickly reinstalled by both Lue and Drew. Earlier this week, GM Koby Altman offered Smith the chance to go on paid leave because he wouldn’t be playing, but he got 24 minutes last night and led the team with 14 points. “As far as I’m concerned, given what our circumstances are, J.R., he’s a member of our team, and if I need him I’m going to call on him,” Drew said.
  • When Altman re-signed Kyle Korver to a three-year deal last summer, it came with an understanding that Korver would be traded or bought out if James left in free agency. Korver asked to be dealt after James joined the Lakers, but the front office refused, saying it wanted to keep the veteran core together to compete for a playoff spot. The Cavs would want maximum value if they do move Korver, likely a first-round pick.

NBA Unlikely To Fine J.R. Smith For Trade Comments

3:20pm: NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t expect the league to fine Smith for today’s comments, tweets Vardon.

2:46pm: The NBA is evaluating whether comments made by Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith during Thursday’s media session warrant a fine, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As we relayed earlier today, Smith told reporters in Cleveland that he’d like to be traded — specifically, he was asked if he wanted to be dealt, and he replied, “Yeah.” The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits players from publicly requesting trades, so the league will have to determine whether Smith violated that rule by simply answering a reporter’s question and acknowledging that he’d welcome a trade.

Wojnarowski points out that Eric Bledsoe was fined $10K last fall when the Suns got off to a miserable start and he tweeted, “I don’t wanna be here.” Bledsoe later claimed that he was with at a hair salon when he sent the tweet, but neither the team nor the league bought that explanation. Although he had to pay the $10K fine, Bledsoe eventually got his wish, with Phoenix trading him to the Bucks.

It remains to be seen whether Smith will get similar treatment from the NBA (via a fine) and from the Cavaliers (via a trade). For now though, he finds himself an awkward situation. According to multiple reports, Cavs GM Koby Altman asked Smith if he wanted to take time away from the team, but the veteran guard declined. He’s also not interested in asking for or accepting a buyout, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Given Smith’s somewhat onerous contract and the fact that it’s still just November 1, the Cavaliers are unlikely to find a trade partner in the near future, so the two sides may be stuck with each other for the time being.

J.R. Smith Would Welcome Trade From Cavs

J.R. Smith, removed from the Cavaliers‘ rotation for the time being, said today that he’d like to be traded, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic and Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links).

After starting 61 of the 80 games he appeared in last season and averaging 28.1 minutes per contest for the Cavaliers, Smith has logged just 12.0 MPG in four games this season. The 33-year-old also already has multiple DNPs, including one on Tuesday in the team’s first game under new head coach Larry Drew.

A report this week indicated that Smith is no longer a part of the rotation in Cleveland, with the team focusing on developing some of its younger players. That report also indicated that the veteran guard was “upset” by the news and considered taking some time away from the club. Smith later denied that report, tweeting that the Cavs gave him the option of taking time away and he elected not to.

Still, it appears that Smith would welcome a move to another team, which doesn’t come as a surprise. After four straight trips to the NBA Finals alongside LeBron James, the 15-year veteran finds himself playing a limited role on a 1-6 team likely headed for the lottery.

Smith’s $14.72MM cap hit for 2018/19 won’t make him easy to move, but the structure of his deal could help boost his value. Although he’s under contract for one more season beyond 2018/19, his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20 is only partially guaranteed for $3.87MM. Because that contract was signed under the NBA’s previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, it could become an interesting trade chip next July, as we explained last week.

The Cavaliers are unlikely to embark on a full-fledged fire sale this early in the season, but we heard this week that they’re gauging the trade market for Kyle Korver, so it would make sense to take similar steps with Smith.

Cavs Rumors: Korver, Drew, J.R. Smith, Love

There was good news and bad news in Cleveland on Tuesday. The home crowd finally got to see the Cavaliers pick up their first victory of the season, as they blew out the Hawks by a 22-point margin. Plus, reports earlier in the day indicated that the city would host the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.

However, the team’s coaching situation remains extremely unsettled, with Larry Drew telling reporters before the game that there’s still no deal in place to make him the team’s interim head coach, let alone the permanent coach. Drew, who is seeking a raise and possibly a longer-term commitment, said that he’s “very disappointed” with the lack of progress in negotiations.

As we wait to see what happens with Drew and the Cavs, here are a few more items out of interest from out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers have begun testing the trade market for Kyle Korver, according to Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. Korver was mentioned in trade rumors over the summer, with reports suggesting that the Sixers discussed a potential deal for the veteran sharpshooter in July. It’s not clear if Philadelphia is still interested in Korver, but the Cavs are exploring their options.
  • The Cavs may become more active in looking to trade other veterans in the coming weeks, sources tell Windhorst and Wojnarowksi. Channing Frye, Rodney Hood, and David Nwaba aren’t trade-eligible until December 15 and Kevin Love can’t be traded until January 24, but anyone else on the roster could theoretically be dealt immediately.
  • J.R. Smith has been informed that he’ll be removed from the rotation and won’t receive guaranteed minutes, according to Windhorst and Wojnarowski. The ESPN duo reports that the veteran guard was “upset” by the news and considered taking some time away from the club, but has decided to stay with the Cavs for the time being. A Cavs front office official denied that report on Smith’s apparent discontent, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
    • Update: Smith has since tweeted that the Cavs gave him the option of taking time away, but he chose to stay.
  • Although Larry Drew suggested on Tuesday that the Cavs may decide to bring in an outside coach to replace him, GM Koby Altman has no interest in going that route, writes Vardon.
  • Kevin Love confirmed on Tuesday that his toe injury will keep him sidelined for at least the next couple weeks, as Tom Withers of The Associated Press relays. “I would like to get back obviously as soon as possible,” Love said. “I had high hopes for the season, I know it’s been off to a really rocky start, but the more I can be out there and help this team, the better. So I’m hoping to get out there as quickly as possible and hoping that it’s only two or three weeks.”

Bulls Surrendered Potential Trade Chip By Waiving Asik

Veteran center Omer Asik, acquired in last season’s Nikola Mirotic with the Pelicans as a salary-matching piece, was unlikely to play at all this season for the Bulls. Still, Chicago’s decision to release him over the weekend in order to sign Shaquille Harrison was “stunning” to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), who referred to Asik’s contract one of the best trade pieces in the league.

[RELATED: Bulls sign Shaquille Harrison, cut Omer Asik]

Of course, Asik didn’t have trade value in the way that star players have trade value, but his contract was an intriguing potential trade chip for a couple reasons: It was signed under the league’s previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, and he was owed a partial guarantee of just $3MM on his $11.98MM salary for 2019/20.

Under the league’s new CBA, a team trading a player with an $11.98MM salary with a $3MM partial guarantee would only get to count that contract for $3MM for salary-matching purposes, limiting its appeal in a potential deal. However, if that same contract was signed under the old CBA – like Asik’s – it counts for its full $11.98MM for salary-matching purposes. That would have made it appealing to teams looking to cut costs during the summer of 2019.

For instance, let’s say that the Knicks wanted to make a run at Kevin Durant in the summer of 2019 and needed to move as much salary as possible to clear a maximum-salary slot. Cap rules would have allowed Chicago and New York to swap Courtney Lee (who has a $12.76MM salary for 2019/20) straight up for Asik. The Knicks then could’ve waived Asik, stretching his $3MM partial guarantee across three years and leaving just $1MM on their cap.

The Bulls might not have wanted Lee, and more parts may have been required to make such a deal acceptable for both sides, but that’s just one example of how Asik’s modest partial guarantee – and his old contract – provided some value. That $11.98MM cap hit could be useful for salary matching in all variations of trades and wasn’t a negative asset since it wasn’t guaranteed.

By comparison, a player like Avery Bradley has a contract structure similar to Asik’s for next season ($2MM partial guarantee on a $12.96MM salary), but signed his deal under the league’s current CBA. If the Clippers wanted to trade Bradley after the season, he’d only count for $2MM for salary-matching purposes rather than $12.96MM, making a deal tricky.

It’s possible that Chicago wouldn’t have found any use for Asik on the trade market next summer, especially since the team may be far enough below the cap to take on contracts in trades without matching salaries. Harrison will also certainly help the club more in the short term, and the Bulls may eventually be able to remove Asik’s contract from their cap altogether if he’s deemed medically ineligible to continue his career. Still, it’s somewhat surprising that the team didn’t wait a little longer before deciding to cut bait on him.

With Asik no longer under contract, there are just two notable players who signed contracts under the old CBA and have partial guarantees for next season — one is Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith ($3.87MM guarantee on $15.86MM salary) and the other is Suns forward Ryan Anderson ($15.64MM guarantee on $21.26MM salary). If either of those players is dealt during the summer of 2019, he’d count for his full salary for trade purposes, rather than just his guarantee amount.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Rozier, Smart, Rotation, Irving

Despite Kyrie Irving‘s verbal commitment to re-signing with the team next summer, the Celtics have explored a potential contract extension for Terry Rozier, a source tells Brian Robb of BostonSportsJournal.com. The two sides have until next Monday to complete a deal. If they don’t, Rozier will remain on track to reach restricted free agency in 2019.

While Robb describes the Celtics as having been engaged and “active” in extension negotiations, it’s hard to imagine the two sides reaching an agreement in the coming days. With Irving expected to stick around long-term and Marcus Smart already locked up to a long-term deal, the Celtics would be committing a ton of money to point guards if they were to extend Rozier as well. Additionally, it’s not clear whether Rozier would be comfortable accepting a bench role for the next several years of his career by re-upping with the C’s.

“That’s something I’m really going to have to sit down and think about,” Rozier told Robb on Tuesday.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • The NBA hit Marcus Smart with a $25K fine earlier this week for his role in an on-court altercation with J.R. Smith, the league announced in a press release. The incident, which resulted in Smart’s ejection, occurred during Saturday’s game against the Cavaliers. Smith was fined $15K.
  • The Celtics continue to work on figuring out their rotation for the regular season, as head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged after that Saturday loss to the Cavs. Taylor C. Snow of Celtics.com has the story.
  • Asked about the Celtics’ struggles during the preseason, Kyrie Irving said that he and his teammates “have to be a lot smarter,” as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston details. “We have to be a lot more diligent in what we’re doing out there, a lot more communicative,” Irving said. “And it’s going to take some time for us to figure that out because we don’t have 1-2-3-4-5 set in stone. Like 2, 3, and 4 is like up in the air for us so you can see that our wings are having somewhat of a struggle just figuring out, ‘OK, who is the 4, who is the 3 here?'”
  • In a separate piece on Irving, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe passes along some of the point guard’s observations on his time in Cleveland and what he learned from playing with LeBron James.