The departure of LeBron James has greatly affected the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though they are still aiming to defend their title as Eastern Conference champions, it seems like the road to the NBA Finals is already closed for the Cavaliers. As of now, the Cavaliers are more focused on developing their young players in the 2018-19 NBA season and have already started getting rid of some of their veterans.
On November 20, the Cavaliers released a formal statement that they will be parting ways with veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith. When the Cavaliers struggled earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, Smith found himself out of the Cavaliers’ rotation. Smith expressed his frustration with his lack of playing time with the Cavaliers and said that they no longer consider winning as their main priority.
However, as of now, J.R. Smith remains a member of the Cavaliers. Per Sam Amico of Amico Hoops, the 33-year-old shooting guard said that he won’t be accepting a buyout with the Cavaliers. However, with his deteriorating performance, it remains questionable if there will be NBA teams who are willing to give up valuable assets just to add him to their team.
In an appearance on The Woj Pod, Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN discussed J.R. Smith’s current situation in Cleveland. Marks, who served as an assistant general manager with the Brooklyn Nets, believes it will best for the Cavaliers to wait for the 2018-19 NBA season to end before trading Smith.
“I think he’s got more value after the season, if you are team looking to move money to clear cap space, because he has a partial (guarantee for 2019-20),” Marks said. “He’s making $15 million right now. There’s not that many $15 million guys that, if you’re Cleveland, do you want to take on money next year? Maybe you go that route, where you’re in a rebuild and you can get something back (for the player you received in a trade for Smith, such as a draft pick).”
As Marks noted, NBA teams who want to create salary cap space after the season could express interest in trading for J.R. Smith since according to Spotrac, only $3.87 million of the $15.68 million he is owed for the 2019-20 NBA season is guaranteed. In exchange for helping NBA teams save money, the Cavaliers could demand a future draft pick which could enable them to add another young and promising talent on their roster.
As of now, it remains unknown what the Cavaliers plan to do with J.R. Smith. Expect more rumors to circulate before the February NBA trade deadline.