Three weeks have gone by since the start of training camp, and that has meant three weeks of the Cleveland Cavaliers intense practices and preseason games without one J.R. Smith.
The Cavs latest offer, which hasn’t changed for weeks, stands at about $42 million over four years which is a little over $10 million per year. Smith is still looking to earn about $15 million annually, and both sides have yet to budge on those numbers. But with the NBA season, just 11 days away, it would be understandable if Smith starts to get a little anxious and look elsewhere.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, that’s exactly what could happen.
Sources say it’s only a matter of time before Smith starts engaging with other teams. There are currently six, for the record, with anywhere from $13 million to $27 million in available cap space: Minnesota, Phoenix, Utah, Denver, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
Boston is not an active suitor for Smith, but sources say that’s only because the Celtics have a mere million-plus in cap space. Sources maintain that the Celtics’ reported interest in Smith is genuine, which means it’s wise to keep an eye on them, since creating cap space with the help of one of those aforementioned six clubs is certainly feasible.
For Cavs fans, it’s a little scary to think that Smith would walk away and the Cavs would only be able to sign a player for the league minimum. Right now, the Cavs have Smith’s Bird Rights, meaning they’re able to go into the luxury tax to pay him (which is what they’re doing with their current offer).
Although the Cavs do have a number of shooters and wing defenders on the team, the likes of Smith will be nearly irreplaceable. Smith made a personal career-high as well as a franchise-high 204 three-pointers last season and helped the Cavs win their first ever NBA Championship. Smith has also become a beloved fan favorite in Northeast Ohio after attending more than a handful of Indians baseball, Browns football, and Ohio State football games.