J.R. Smith has signed a four-year, $57 million contract to remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, he was nearly acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers.
According to several reports, the mercurial shooting guard received strong interest from the Sixers, who were willing to offer Smith the most lucrative possible contract on the market.
Since the Sixers still have nearly $27 million left in cap room, they were willing to outbid the defending NBA champions. However, Smith was always expected to return to Cleveland.
ESPN’s Mark Stein has reported that it was Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo’s late push for Smith which forced the Cavs to act fast and retain their starting two-guard.
The Sixers acquired veteran guards Gerald Henderson and Jerryd Bayless this offseason. However, their backcourt rotation is still relatively week and would have been bolstered by Smith’s addition.
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J.R. Smith: Committed to Cavs
After agreeing upon a four-year contract, Smith insisted that he always wished to return to Cleveland despite the 11th hour contract negotiations.
“We are extremely happy and proud to say that we have agreed to terms to come back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, aka the champs, aka my brothers. It’s been a long road,” an emotional Smith said via a video on Uninterrupted.
“I appreciate everybody sticking out through this rough patch of time. I know this holdout and everything else has been long and tedious for everybody, but it’s extremely huge for us. We’re happy to be a part of the Cleveland family and just want to take it one day at a time,” added Smith, via ESPN.
Tyronn Lue, coach of the Cavaliers, was forced to begin training camp and preseason without his starting shooting guard. But knew that a deal was imminent.
“It’s great news. Any time you get your starting 2-guard back — (he was) a big part of what we did the last two years,” said the Cavs coach.
“It means a lot, so hopefully we get the contract signed and we’ll be going in the right direction,” added Lue.
J.R. Smith and the Cleveland Cavaliers will begin their title defense in a regular season opener against the New York Knicks on Oct. 26. Prior to the game, they will be presented with their championship rings.