The Cleveland Cavaliers still have two big pieces of business to handle in their offseason.
One is re-signing Tristan Thompson, who is looking for a max. contract and has also gotten an endorsement from LeBron James.
The other is re-signing J.R. Smith, who has gotten crushed in free agency this summer.
Smith took a gamble and opted out of a player option worth $US6.4 million next season to become a free agent this summer. According to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Smith thought he was going to get a longer, more lucrative offer this offseason. Instead, he’s now looking at a one-year deal worth less than his $US6.4 million player option.
The hard part for Smith is he knows he should have picked up the player option for $US6.4 million for 2015-16. When he passed and became a free agent, he really believed a multi-year offer for more money was coming his way.
The Cavs have made him an offer. I hear it’s less than $US6.4 million that he turned down. They know Smith is not thrilled with a lesser deal. But right now, he has no leverage, and a one-year contract puts him in position to cash in next summer when the salary cap rises 30 per cent.
Smith told Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group in July that he had gotten offers he liked from other teams, but he turned them down because he wanted to be in a winning situation with the Cavs.
Smith only has three team options now: the Cavs and the only two teams with cap space to sign him, the Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers. Smith reportedly had talks with the Blazers, but they fell through, and the Sixers likely aren’t interested in Smith.
The exact numbers of the Cavs’ offer haven’t been reported, so it’s interesting to speculate just how much (or little) the Cavs are offering Smith. If it’s still close to that $US6.4 million option (perhaps higher than $US5 million), it stands to reason that Smith would re-sign fairly quickly and try to play-up his value this season. If it’s significantly less than that $US6.4 million, it will be interesting to see how long the situation drags out.
Also of note: James hasn’t publicly endorsed re-signing Smith in the way he has Thompson. Despite LeBron claiming he approved the trade that sent Smith to the Cavs from the Knicks, he’s been strangely quiet on Smith’s free agency.
Smith plays an important role on the Cavs as an extra scoring option and floor-spacer. Though he struggled in the playoffs, he should have a chance to redeem himself next season and earn a bigger deal when the salary cap jumps almost $US20 million next summer.
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