It’s been 3 weeks since training camp started for NBA teams, and at this point we’re already well into the pre-season. Cavs fans were told not to worry about the J.R. Smith situation until training camp, and when that date passed they were told not to worry until the pre-season started. It would seem that now is the time to start panicking.
The Cavs have not increased their offer, which would give J.R. a little over $10 million a year, in quite some time. Smith still isn’t interested in it, and is holding out for $15 million, which he absolutely deserves. So now, he’s getting ready to talk to other teams. Via ESPN’s Marc Stein:
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.
If the Cavs can’t find an agreement, they’re going to be stuck picking up a mediocre player for the league minimum. They’ll save a little money, but take a huge hit to their roster strength. The hit to team morale would also be tangible, as just about every Cavs player has publicly called for the team to do what it takes to sign Smith. The Cavs even own Smith’s Bird Rights, meaning that they can safely spend into the luxury tax range and offer Smith more than other teams could.
If the front office doesn’t make a move soon, Smith is going to get at least the $15 million he deserves from another team that would kill to have his talents on their roster, and they’ll be left with a weakened team and an angry fan base asking what the hell happened.