For months, Cavs fans have been waiting for their team and free agent J.R. Smith to come to an agreement on a contract. Although Smith has said he’s not considering any other team and the Cavs organization wants Smith back, there has still been some concern as to why the negotiations for a new contract have been taking so long.
Many like Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler have reported that the two sides are close, and that it’s just matter of how many years his deal would come out to be.
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The Cavs and J.R. Smith are not so far apart that a deal won't get reached – its ultimately how much for how long https://t.co/zbw4ry6iii
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) August 31, 2016
In a recent interview with Complex Sports’ Adam Caparell, Smith said he hopes to sign a new deal soon and also explained what’s been causing the delay all the way into mid-September.
“Well, obviously we’re not where we want to be at from a personal standpoint,” says Smith. “But it’s more than just numbers. I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of the Cavs for everything they’ve done for me, and I don’t want them to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. It’s more of a mutual respect thing.”
After earning $5 million in the 2015-16 season that saw the Cavs win their first ever NBA Championship, Smith is understandably looking to cash in on what could very well be the final multi-year deal of his career. Smith just turned 31 last week, and would be 34 years at the end of a potential three-year deal. Aside from that, NBA teams have been dishing out money to players who are, no offense, far below Smith’s caliber. Smith sees that, and wants to feel like he’s properly compensated.
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Another example would be Iman Shumpert. Shumpert signed a four-year, $40 million deal last summer and averaged just 5.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and one steal per game last year as the Cavs best wing defender. Smith, however, had his own coming out party in the postseason last year, at times locking down players like Kyle Korver, DeMar DeRozan, and even Klay Thompson in the Finals.
Smith acknowledged that his family, first, and winning, second, are the main priorities to him. Since his arrival to Cleveland, the organization has been one big brotherhood that changed many people’s perspective on him. Smith was asked whether Cleveland is really the best fit for him and his family.
“Yes and no. It depends on how you look at it,” says Smith. “Financially, you can always go somewhere else. Team morale-wise, there are a few teams that I could see working. There are guys I would like to play with, guys I have played with. Being able to live in that city or a particular place, school systems, kids, family life—[with] free agency, everything comes into play. Before, I could just sit there and be like, ‘I don’t care where I go.’ But now I have the kids, and it’s like, ‘Ok, what’s the best fit?’”
“My family is always my priority,” he says. After that, “winning is obviously the biggest thing. Because if you don’t win, nothing really matters. You can have all the money in the world and they can still call you a loser.”
Regardless of the delays in contract negotiations, it still looks very likely that Smith ends up with the Cavaliers for the next couple of seasons. For the sharpshooting Smith, who averaged 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals, and 2.6 three pointers while setting the single season franchise record for most three pointers, it’s only a matter of time until the two sides agree on a deal and the Cavs begin their epic title defense in October.