J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith Turned Down Offer From CBA Team

Free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith reportedly passed on a a contract offer from a team in the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. A source tells Carchia that Smith turned down the proposal – worth about $1.6MM – from the Jiangsu Dragons.

Smith, who will turn 34 in September, spent last season under contract with the Cavaliers. However, he only played 11 games in his fifth season with the franchise, informally parting ways with Cleveland last fall as the team tried to find a taker for his pseudo-expiring contract. The Cavs ultimately didn’t get any trade offers they liked for Smith and waived him this summer.

Assuming Carchia’s information on Jiangsu’s offer is accurate, it makes some sense that Smith would be reluctant to accept it. As a result of being released by the Cavaliers, the veteran guard will earn about $1.46MM in each of the next three years, so he’s not in immediate need of a payday. Plus, if he can catch on with an NBA team, his minimum salary stateside would be about $2.56MM.

We haven’t heard much about the potential NBA market for Smith since he met with the Bucks over a month ago. Milwaukee ultimately opted to sign another shooter, Kyle Korver, but other teams could have interest in Smith if they decide they need another outside threat this fall. He has knocked down 37.3% of 5,167 career three-point attempts.

Of course, if Smith does eventually decide to make the move to China, he’d hardly be the only NBA veteran to do so this offseason. As we detailed on Tuesday, Lance Stephenson, Jeremy Lin, Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant, and Ian Clark are among the many players who have signed with CBA clubs within the last couple months. Smith has also played in China once before, having joined the Zhejiang Golden Bulls during the 2011 NBA lockout.

Western Notes: Rockets, Wolves, Kawhi

Eric Gordon could end up in the backup wing spot for the Rockets when the season begins, as Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes. Houston has depth at the guard position but lacks it in the three/four spots.

Houston still has interest in Andre Iguodala, though Memphis appears to be holding out for a first-round pick, which could be a deal-breaker. J.R. Smith is a possibility. He had his best season under coach Mike D’Antoni when the pair was in New York, though Iko cautions that he hasn’t heard any new developments when it comes to bringing the 3-point marksman to Houston.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Iko doesn’t see Kevin Love as a realistic target for the Rockets, as he explains in the same piece. Love’s salary, which comes in at just under $29MM for the upcoming year, makes a trade difficult for the two parties.
  • Britt Robson of The Athletic examines how the Timberwolves’ current roster fits in with the team’s blueprint for the future. The team failed to pair Karl-Anthony Towns with another All-Star but smartly opted against overspending on middling talent. Minnesota’s 2019 free agent spending spree wasn’t a wild one, as the club brought in five players who combined will make approximately $11MM this upcoming season.
  • Kawhi Leonard attempted to get the Spurs to trade for Paul George while he was in San Antonio, as he tells ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (h/t Justin Russo on Twitter). Leonard was originally drafted with the No. 15 overall pick by Indiana, the team George previously played for. The Pacers traded Leonard’s rights on draft night, but George wishes Indiana had kept him, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com relays. “It seems like this was destiny that we were supposed to play together,” George said of his new Clippers teammate.

J.R. Smith Meeting With Bucks

After clearing waivers on Wednesday, veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith has lined up a free agent meeting with the Bucks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the sit-down will happen today.

As Charania notes, Milwaukee remains in the market for a wing shooter. However, the team has little financial flexibility, having used up its cap space and its room exception. While the Bucks can’t offer more than the veteran’s minimum, Smith is unlikely to command more than that at this stage in his career.

Released this week by the Cavaliers, Smith hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since last November, when he parted ways with the team for the remainder of the season. In the first month of the 2018/19 season, he appeared in 11 games (20.2 MPG), averaging 6.7 PPG on .342/.308/.800 shooting. Those numbers were among the worst of his 15-year NBA career, though the sample size was extremely limited.

In his last full season in 2017/18, Smith recorded 8.3 PPG with a .375 3PT% in 80 games (28.1 MPG).

The idea of the Lakers as a landing spot for Smith was a popular topic of speculation, given his connection to LeBron James and Klutch Sports. But a report surfaced shortly after the Cavs waived him indicating that the Lakers were an unlikely destination for the veteran.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Smith, Sexton

Ben Simmons‘ near-$170MM extension with the Sixers may sound like an exorbitant amount for the 22-year-old, but Derek Bodner of The Athletic argue that the deal could turn into a bargain.

Simmons’ 2020/21 salary (estimated to start at $29.25MM) currently places him 30th among his NBA peers that season. Surely other players will sign top-end deals next summer, dropping him lower in the rankings.

The point guard still needs to further develop his jumper to become great, Bodner cautions. However, Simmons has all the tools to easily become a top-10 talent for the Sixers and should that happen, he would be severely underpaid.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • If J.R. Smith signs with another team, the Cavaliers will recoup the $500K they agreed to give him for extending his guaranteed date via setoff, ESPN Bobby Marks notes on Twitter. Cleveland waived Smith on Monday.
  • The Cavaliers didn’t play Collin Sexton in Summer League because the point guard didn’t have much to gain from the experience, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com explains. The level of competition in Las Vegas and Utah isn’t very high and it was much more prudent to allow Sexton to join the team in those locations but not risk injury during live action.
  • The Cavaliers are fans of Jaron Blossomgame, who played for their Summer League team, Fedor relays in the same piece. Blossomgame spent time with the club under a two-way deal in 2018/19 and is a candidate for a roster spot this upcoming season.

Western Notes: Smith, Cuban, Fertitta, Daniels, Clarke

The Lakers are unlikely to sign shooting guard J.R. Smith once he clears waivers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Cavaliers cut Smith loose on Monday after failing to find a trade partner. The lack of interest shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the Lakers have signed shooting guards Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Troy Daniels in free agency.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined $50K by the league for leaking information from the Board of Governors meeting, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports. Cuban revealed the vote to allow coaches to challenge an official’s ruling next season.
  • The league has also fined Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta $25K for making public comments about the Russell WestbrookChris Paul swap before it was officially completed, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.
  • Troy Daniels chose the Lakers over the Warriors and Thunder, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Daniels was wooed by Anthony Davis during the decision-making process. Daniels signed a one-year, minimum salary contract.
  • Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, the 21st player selected in the draft, has been named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal relays. Clarke averaged 14.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 22.0 MPG over six games.

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.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Smith, Iguodala, Bolden

The Cavaliers aren’t making an effort to deal Kevin Love, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. On the surface, Love appears to be a prime trade candidate. He’s nearly 31 on a rebuilding team, is coming off toe surgery that limited him to 22 games last season and has a four-year, $120MM extension that’s about to kick in.

However, Cleveland doesn’t view Love’s contract as burdensome. A five-time All-Star, he’s easily the team’s best player if he can stay healthy and provides a positive role model for a young roster. New coach John Beilein wants to keep Love around because he’ll take pressure off his teammates to develop quickly.

Cavs management will listen to offers for Love, but it would take a formidable deal to move him anytime soon. Fedor sees the Heat as a possibility because they are searching for a second star to team with Jimmy Butler and have both young players such as Tyler Herro, Meyers Leonard, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow who would interest Cleveland, plus big contracts in James Johnson, Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters to help match Love’s $28.9MM salary. Fedor expects the front office to hold onto Love for a while and reassess its options closer to the trade deadline.

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

  • Tomorrow is the new guarantee date for J.R. Smith, but it can be pushed back to August 1 if the Cavs can’t work out a trade. The original date had been June 30, but Smith agreed to an extension last month in exchange for an increase in guaranteed money from $3.9MM to $4.37MM. Smith’s trade value can be counted at the full $15.68MM because he signed his contract before that rule was changed, but Cleveland hasn’t been able to find any takers for the 33-year-old guard. Management has been surprised by the lack of interest in Smith, Fedor adds, believing its offers in salary-dump situations were better than the ones that were accepted. The Cavs have also been “shocked” by some of the bad contracts teams are trying to get them to take.
  • The Cavaliers tried to obtain Andre Iguodala from the Warriors, and sources tell Fedor they asked for less than the future first-rounder and cash that Memphis received for taking on Iguodala’s $17.1MM contract. However, Golden State wanted to create a large trade exception and saw that as more valuable than the cap relief Smith would have provided. Cleveland was also involved in talks to facilitate the Butler trade by taking Maurice Harkless from the Trail Blazers, but he wound up with the Clippers, who received a 2023 first-rounder from Miami.
  • Former Duke big man Marques Bolden is receiving strong consideration for a two-way contract. The Cavaliers believe he never got a full chance to display his talents in college and can develop into an effective NBA center. “In college you don’t have space,” said Summer League head coach Antonio Lang. “Here you have space and he can create space if he continues to roll hard. Everything you look for in a big he has, he just has to be more efficient with his footwork and learn the game more. That comes with practice and time. He’s more suited for the NBA game.”

J.R. Smith Agrees To Move Guarantee Date

The Cavaliers will have a little more time to unload J.R. Smith‘s contract, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The veteran guard has agreed to move his guarantee date for next season from June 30 to July 15, with an option to push it all the way to August 1, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter link). As part of the agreement, Smith’s guaranteed money will rise from $3.9MM to $4.4MM.

Smith is due to make $15.68MM in the final year of his deal, but the smaller guarantee should make him attractive for a team looking to reduce salary. The Cavaliers have no interest in keeping Smith after he played just 11 games last season before being sent away from the team. Cleveland reportedly received offers on draft night, but nothing good enough to get a deal done.

Smith’s trade value can be counted at the full $15.68MM because he signed his contract before that rule was changed in the latest collective bargaining agreement. The Cavaliers will now have extra time to search for a deal as teams get a better read on their cap situations once the free agent frenzy dies down.

[RELATED: Why J.R. Smith May (Or May Not) Be A Valuable Offseason Trade Chip]

Smith, who will turn 34 in September, was a valuable player for Cleveland during the most recent LeBron James era, both as a clutch shooter and a defender. During Smith’s last full season in 2017/18, he averaged 8.3 points per game and was a .375 shooter from 3-point range.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Smith, Nwaba

There’s a belief within the league that the Cavaliers will receive trade inquiries for Kevin Love this offseason, as Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes.

“Yes, one of the big-market teams that fail to land a big fish are going to make an offer for Kevin,” an executive told Vardon. Another source said that if Love was a free agent this summer and coming off of an injury-free year, he would be in line for a massive deal.

“He would get four years and $120MM in this marketplace,” the other executive said. “I mean, Al Horford might get a similar deal.”

Love will make slightly under $29MM during the 2019/20 season and has approximately $91MM on his deal in the ensuing three years. The opinion that Love’s contract allows him to be a positive asset isn’t unanimous throughout the league.

“His contract is hard to digest unless he’s clearly the missing piece,” a separate league executive told Vardon.

Love has been the subject of trade rumors ever since the Cavaliers acquired him during the 2014 offseason. He signed an extension with the club last offseason and the team has resisted trade overtures. GM Koby Altman won’t deal Love unless the return makes the Cavs a better squad, and Vardon writes that it’s unlikely that the kind of deal that Altman is looking for will surface.

Here’s more from Cleveland:

  • Trading J.R. Smith appears unlikely at this point, Vardon adds in the same piece. The team will need to waive him by June 30 to avoid paying his full contract. Only $3.9MM of his deal is guaranteed for next season.
  • Vardon (same piece) hears that the Cavs are likely to do David Nwaba “a favor” by not tendering him a qualifying offer, thus allowing him to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.
  • Free agency in Cleveland should be quiet with the franchise currently over the salary cap, Vardon explains. It’s unlikely the team uses a “significant” portion of its mid-level exception or the trade exception the franchise netted when it dealt away Rodney Hood this past season.
  • While cutting Smith loose will get the Cavaliers below the luxury tax threshold, it’s unlikely the team will consider going back over that line to fill their last couple open roster spots. Vardon expects Cleveland to fill those spots with minimum salary players.

Cavs Turned Down J.R. Smith Offers On Draft Night

The Cavaliers entered draft day last Thursday hoping to trade J.R. Smith to pick up an extra asset or two, but ended up declining offers that would have landed the team a first-round pick, league sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

According to Fedor, the Cavaliers are still attempting to make a deal involving Smith, whose partially guaranteed contract is the last of its kind signed under the league’s previous Collective Bargaining Agreement. As I outlined back in March, that makes Smith an intriguing trade target for teams looking to create cap room.

Smith’s $15.68MM salary for 2019/20 will become fully guaranteed after June 30, so he’ll almost certainly be waived in the coming days, either by the Cavs or a new team.

In my previous examination of the Smith contract, I noted that the Cavs’ proximity to the luxury tax may ultimately prohibit the team from finding a deal that makes sense. Fedor confirms that the tax is the primary concern for Cleveland, reporting that the club would like to stay below that line in 2019/20 and avoid getting hit with repeater taxpayer penalties.

Trading Smith for an unwanted contract would make it difficult for the Cavs to avoid the tax without waiving-and-stretching one or two of their expiring deals, which would compromise their future cap flexibility. On top of that, many players available on the trade market for Smith have contracts that extend beyond 2019/20, creating additional complications for Cleveland.

Fedor points to the Bucks’ Tony Snell salary dump as one deal the Cavs probably could’ve gotten in on using Smith. However, acquiring Snell would’ve increased the cost of Cleveland’s 2019/20 roster to $139MM+ and added an extra $12MM+ to the club’s 2020/21 cap, all for the No. 30 overall pick. The tax line is projected to be around $132MM in ’19/20.

The Cavs later agreed to acquire the No. 30 pick another way, sending $5MM and a handful of second-round picks to Detroit for the rights to Kevin Porter Jr.

“There’s a pain threshold of doing it, going into the tax, which we would have to do in terms of taking back money and the rest of the NBA knowing that we’re in the tax and my job would be getting us out of the tax,” GM Koby Altman said after the draft, per Fedor.

“Is there enough value there to do that, to put ourselves out there like that?” Altman said. “I think that’s something we are weighing these last few days. There’s opportunity to do it. It’s just how deep do we want to go into the tax to bring back an asset? Also, what does it take us out of into the year? We’re still looking to add assets throughout the year, so using J.R. now might take us out of that.”

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (video link) believes the Lakers will be a top suitor for Smith if and when he’s eventually released.