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Cavs GM Koby Altman still hopeful to trade J.R. Smith before free agency

Cavs, J.R. Smith, Koby Altman

The Cleveland Cavaliers still intend to use J.R. Smith as a trade asset and deal him at some point before the start of free agency. General manager Koby Altman is confident that the franchise’s ability to take on players with bloated contracts could be the formula that lands Smith elsewhere before the start of the 2019-20 season.

“We have a trade chip in JR Smith, and his contract, where we can take on some money that other teams are trying to get some cap relief from,” general manager Koby Altman said Friday, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We are actually the only team in the NBA that can provide guaranteed cap relief until July 1. We can guarantee that right now and we actually had a phone call (Thursday) on that trade chip, so, we’re going to keep on being aggressive adding those assets because we do eventually want to consolidate and be really good at some point.”

Smith has been away from the team for most of the season after an early disagreement with the front office about his playing time caused a major fissure between him and the franchise.

Former coach Tyronn Lue had been instructed to play the young players and Smith was warned that he’d be taking a back seat from the get-go, something that didn’t sit well with the veteran guard.

Lue was eventually fired and Smith remained in limbo, away from his teammates, with no intention of seeking a buyout with the team.

Smith’s value has greatly decreased since signing a four-year, $57 million deal with the Cavs in 2016. He is now mostly seen as a contract to ship around for those interested in staying out of the luxury tax or hoping to open up a max spot for the upcoming summer.

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