The Cleveland Cavaliers signed LeBron James to a three-year deal Thursday to make his comeback to Ohio official but they have one free agent left to deal with as J.R. Smith still has no contract in the current 2016 offseason. This fuels NBA rumors that Smith might be on his way out of LeBron James’ team.
Could J.R. Smith really leave the Cavaliers if they continue to have a contract dispute? Or will he return and help Cleveland defend the title they won against the Golden State Warriors last season?
The Cavs are currently tied to about $105 million in total salary not counting Smith’s deal. He opted out of a $5.2 contract for the 2016-2017 NBA Season and the shooting guard is expected to demand a higher contract that will run for two or three years.
If the Cavs sign Smith to the potential big deal, they’d have the highest total team salary in the 2016-2017 season. Cleveland management is willing to go over the luxury tax and keep the key players in their championship roster.
However, there are three teams that still have the cap space in trying to steal Smith away from the Cavaliers. These are the Philadelphia 76ers with about $24 million in cap space, Denver Nuggets with $17.5 million and the Brooklyn Nets with $16.2 million, all part of NBA rumors of a possible landing spot for the veteran shooter.
The three teams are not expected to contend for a title next season so Smith might snub their offers. However, there are also other teams with a bit of salary cap space this offseason that can try to sign him. The Utah Jazz with nearly $10 million, Minnesota Timberwolves with $8.3 million and the Indiana Pacers with $7.6 million.
Among those teams, Smith has a history with the Nuggets playing in Denver from 2006 to 2011.
The situation in Indiana and Utah are also appealing for Smith since he can still join a playoff team while getting a long-term contract, if the Cavs decide to let him go.
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