JR Smith is expected to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but contract negotiations with general manager David Griffin have stalled. This has opened the window for other teams to try and steal the mercurial scorer away from LeBron James’ kingdom.
The former NBA Sixth Man of the Year declined his $5.4-million player option last month to test the free agency market. The move was considered by many as a ploy to elicit a pay increase from the Cavaliers.
Naturally, interested teams began shelving boatload of cash to make room for Smith. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers postponed offering Smith a contract unless the team was 100 percent sure James would be coming back to defend their championship next season.
Smith mentioned that he wants a lucrative deal, something he won’t get by re-signing with the salary cap-stricken Cavaliers. Teams who could offer him such a paycheck include the Brooklyn Nets and the Miami Heat.
The Nets have enough cap room to sign Smith. In Brooklyn, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard will share backcourt duties with the team’s newly-acquired point guard Jeremy Lin. Smith could receive close to a max deal in Brooklyn. The opposite can be said if he stays in northeast Ohio.
As of the moment, the Cavaliers are stacked financially. The trio of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson is set to collect over $54 million next season, as per Hoops Hype. Not only that, the team has yet to re-sign James, who opted out of the second season of his contract with the Cavaliers.
The Miami Heat are also reportedly interested in Smith. The departure of Dwyane Wade left a huge hole in the team’s roster. On the bright side, Pat Riley and company can use the unspent money to aggressively pursue the sharp-shooting guard.
Despite the persistent free agency rumors, Cleveland.com reported that Smith will likely re-sign with the Cavaliers. He would be receiving a role player’s salary in Cleveland, but to play alongside LeBron James and compete for championships every year would be too much to pass up.