Throughout the offseason and even heading into training camp, one issue that hovered over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers has been JR Smith’s free agency. He has yet to sign a new deal but remains extremely interested in returning to the team. In according to the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola, another playoff contender has some significant interest in the veteran guard.
It is likely that Smith, a one-time Sixth Man of the Year with the Knicks, will re-sign with Cleveland but there are several teams that have interest in the shooting guard. One team is the Boston Celtics, whose second unit could certainly use a little scoring punch.
Barring a trade to clear cap space, the Celtics have approximately $9 million to sign Smith. He’s looking for a bigger payday, somewhere in the $15 million per season range. The Cavs are currently offering between $10 and $11 million annually. The Celtics would have to get close to $15 million for Smith to want to leave Cleveland to be a back-up to Avery Bradley.
The Boston Celtics have become one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, and Smith’s addition could help bolster their bench. Although they ranked seventh in the league last season with 37.7 bench points per game, the 31-year-old would provide a proven scoring punch for their second unit. This is the first legitimate competition for the Cavaliers involving signing Smith.
That said, if LeBron James wants Smith back Cleveland will find a way to get a deal done. This was the case last year with Tristan Thompson and the front office eventually signed him to a five-year, $82 million deal. It’s only a matter of time before Smith re-signs with the Cavaliers.