Although the Cleveland Cavaliers and J.R. Smith decided to officially part ways early in the 2018-19 season, with the team deactivating the veteran shooting guard after he had played just 11 games for them, things didn’t turn out as expected for both sides. Instead of finding a new NBA home in the weeks that followed, Smith sat out the rest of the season, as Cleveland chose not to move him before the February trade deadline. But with the Cavs now receiving trade inquiries for Smith, as previously noted by The Inquisitr, a recent report took a look at several potential destinations for the former Sixth Man of the Year winner, with the Brooklyn Nets standing out as one of the more interesting possibilities.
On Wednesday, Cleveland.com‘s Chris Fedor listed down 10 NBA teams that could theoretically make a move for Smith and suggested that the Nets could pull off such a trade as a way of clearing valuable salary cap space. As pointed out separately in a New York Post article from earlier this month, first-time All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell will be a restricted free agent this summer, which could make retaining his services a “high priority” for the Nets, and a potentially costly one at that.
With the possible cost of retaining Russell in mind, Fedor suggested that the Nets could free up some cap space by acquiring J.R. Smith for a trade package centered on reserve shooting guard Allen Crabbe. As Crabbe’s $18.5 million option for the fourth and final year on his contract is expected to be picked up, Fedor opined that sending him to the Cavaliers could allow the Nets to hold on to Russell while also remaining active during the offseason.
#Cavs received trade calls on JR Smith around the deadline in February. They rebuffed. Multiple teams have reached out in the last weeks. Here are 10 that make the most sense in a Smith deal and why they fit https://t.co/Sqz6mDugtl
— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) April 17, 2019
Given how Crabbe, who averaged 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds and shot just 36.7 percent from the field in the 2018-19 regular season, might not be enough compensation for the Cavs, Fedor suggested that the Nets could also include a “draft pick or two” in their hypothetical trade package. He added that underutilized young players such as forwards Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa could also be traded in lieu of future draft picks, as it would be too much for Brooklyn to surrender a youthful “core piece” such as wingman Caris LeVert or center Jarrett Allen.
Although J.R. Smith still has one more year on his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, per Spotrac, only $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for the 2019-20 season is guaranteed. According to Fedor, these factors make Smith an attractive acquisition for teams looking for a cheap way to dump expensive salaries, though Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman recently stressed to reporters that this “guaranteed cap relief” would only apply if the veteran guard gets traded before July 1.