NBA Rumors: 5 Teams That Could Pry J.R. Smith From Cleveland
The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t had the greatest summer. Okay, they totally did. They get done winning their first ever NBA title, but as far as holding onto key parts to their roster, they’ve been swinging and missing.
LeBron James isn’t about to bolt elsewhere like he did years ago, but even he might be a little troubled with what is happening. Then again, the Cavs couldn’t validate paying big money to bench guys like Timofey Mozgov (Lakers) and Matthew Dellavedova (Bucks).
Mozzy and Delly were nice bench guys who provided sparks in their own way, but Cleveland simply couldn’t hand them the fat cash they wanted. They got their title and then they went out and got paid.
That’s not a big deal when you have Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson rallying around the best player on the talent. Still, repeating as NBA champs could quickly get awfully difficult if the Cavs keep losing helpful bodies.
J.R. on the Move?
— Hoops Rumors (@HoopsRumors) July 18, 2016
J.R. Smith is the one they really have to worry about, too. Smith has maintained a good relationship with the Cavs, but had openly admitted he has given thought to chasing more money elsewhere.
In fact, there have been reports suggesting Smith wants to break the bank – $15 million per year:
Yikes… hearing JR Smith seeking huge deal to return to Cavs, in the $15m per year range. Can Cavs really pass on bringing him back?
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) July 17, 2016
That could put the Cavs in a bit of a bind, as they may have to decide to either pay Smith what he feels he’s earned, or let him go somewhere else.
The issue is Cleveland doesn’t really have a replacement for him, and they don’t have the money to go find someone else on the street.
It’s still possible Smith stays in Cleveland, but if we know J.R. Smith, he’s quite unpredictable and what he does still feels very much up in the air. But if he doesn’t stick with the Cavs, where would he go? We’ve uncovered five of his most likely destinations:
It’d be quite the fall to go from defending champion to a team that probably has zero hope for the playoffs, but if Smith wants a fat salary and a big role, the Sixers might be in the mix for his services.
There isn’t any clear interest out of Philly, but the organization has been taking steps to improve their roster. Even so, Gerald Henderson is currently their top option at the shooting guard spot, so there is still room for an upgrade.
Smith has never really resembled a franchise player or top scorer, but he could try it on for size in Philadelphia.
Denver isn’t the likeliest of suitors when you look at the talent they have, as Gary Harris and Jamal Murray figure to dominate minutes as the two guard spot.
Throw in Smith’s past with the Nuggets, and a reunion doesn’t feel to be overly likely.
While this isn’t a pairing we expect, one thing can’t be forgotten: the Nuggets have a ton of money left to spend. It’s possible they could sign Smith to help bolster and improved team for now, and then find a way to deal him down the road.
Miami could offer the perfect combination of amenities for Smith, who could get paid, have a nice role and also have a shot at going far in the playoffs.
Losing Dwyane Wade opened things up a bit for the Heat, who could still use another scorer to pair with Goran Dragic, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.
It’s tough to say Smith is their answer for letting Wade walk, but he’d certainly help make up for a massive loss on offense.
The Hawks are an interesting team to consider, but they’d first have to figure some things out before seriously trying to add J.R. Smith.
For one, they’d have to clear up some serious cap room after re-signing Kent Bazemore and bringing on center Dwight Howard. On top of that, they’d have to figure out a new role for the regressing Kyle Korver, who seemed to slowly lose his role as the 2015-16 season went on.
If a role and some cash open up, Smith could see the appeal in joining the Hawks, where he could start, have a prominent role like Korver used to and possibly even chase a title if all went well.
Brooklyn is one of just a handful of teams that both have a ton of salary cap to roll with, and also might like to bring on Smith.
The one problem here is Smith knows he’s not winning anything with the Nets. This signing would be all about Brooklyn saving face with a mini splash and Smith getting paid.
If J.R. Smith wants to win, he needs to stay in Cleveland. If he wants to get paid, he probably needs to get courted by the Nuggets and 76ers. A fine middle ground could have him being reached out to by the Heat.
However, when it’s all said and done, we don’t see J.R. Smith leaving a good situation just to make some extra money. In that same breath, a J.R. Smith signing doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Sixers or Nuggets.
If J.R. Smith doesn’t stick with the Cavaliers, we’d be quite surprised.
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