When LeBron James left in the recent free agency, the Cleveland Cavaliers revealed their plan to remain competitive and defend their title as Eastern Conference champions in the 2018-19 NBA season. Unfortunately, based on their current performance, the Cavaliers may even have a hard time securing a spot to play in the postseason.
After an early struggle, the Cavaliers decided to fire Tyronn Lue as head coach, and there are speculations that they are planning to part ways with some of the veterans next. Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman wants the team to give more playing time to their young players over their veterans. J.R. Smith is clearly unhappy having a limited role and has recently expressed his desire to leave the Cavaliers.
As of now, the Cavaliers are yet to officially grant J.R. Smith’s request, but once he becomes available on the trade market, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report sees the Charlotte Hornets as one of his potential landing spots. In the proposed trade deal, the Cavaliers will be sending Smith to the Hornets for Marvin Williams. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine.
“This is a case of positional need and financial flexibility. Sam Dekker is starting at power forward for Cleveland while Kevin Love deals with a sore foot. Behind him, Channing Frye is officially in ‘break glass in case of emergency’ mode. That’s not much depth on a team that needs floor spacing for guards Collin Sexton, Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson. Williams is struggling this season (6.4 points, 35.9 field-goal percentage) but has been a 37.8 percent three-point shooter during his four-plus years in Charlotte.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 3, 2018
As Swartz noted, the deal will allow the Cavaliers to add a big man who has the ability to space the floor to temporarily fill the absence of Kevin Love. Love is expected to miss at least six weeks after a successful foot surgery. Meanwhile, J.R. Smith will boost the Hornets’ scoring off the bench which could help them with their goal to return to the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season.
However, the main reason why they should push through with the deal is it could help them create more salary cap space for the summer of 2019. Hornets superstar Kemba Walker has already expressed his desire to stay long-term in Charlotte, but it is highly likely that he will demand a maximum contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Trading Marvin Williams, who has a $15 million player option in the 2019-20 NBA season, for J.R. Smith, who only has $3.9 million in guaranteed money next season, will make it easier for the Hornets to bring Walker back.