LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the championship last season but could miss some of their core players in the title defense next season. According to NBA rumors, JR Smith may be convinced to leave the Cavs, if he is offered a maximum contract in 2016 free agency.
Smith was one of the key players in the Cavaliers’ run to the title last season where they beat the defending champions Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. Traded from New York before the season, Smith averaged 12.4 points with over two three-pointers made per game in the regular season.
Smith was also excellent in the playoffs stepping up in the finals especially on his defense and outside shooting. The 30-year-old scored in double figures in the last five games of the NBA Finals.
Smith opted out of his final year with the Cavaliers that would have paid him $5.375 million in the 2016-2017 season. NBA rumors state that he wants a bigger deal or even a max contract this summer.
As SR noted, the lucrative deals of Timofey Mozgov ($64M over four years with the Los Angeles Lakers) and Matthew Dellavedova ($38.4M over four years with the Milwaukee Bucks) may influence Smith’s decision to sign a big contract elsewhere.
The Cavaliers are tied up with the big contracts of Kevin Love ($21.1M), Kyrie Irving ($17.6M) and Tristan Thompson ($15.3M). This does not include LeBron James contract next season after the Cavs superstar declined the player option of $24M for 2016-2017. However, the Cavs can also give Smith a lucrative deal.
LeBron is expected to re-sign with the Cavaliers with a larger contract and this would put the team above the salary cap of about $95M. Re-signing Smith to a big contract would likely put the team over the luxury tax limit of about $115M.
Are the Cavaliers willing to go over the tax limit to re-sign Smith? Cleveland wants to defend their title and they want the core of the team back next season.
NBA rumors involving teams with salary cap space like the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks could be landing spots for Smith if he wants a bigger deal this summer. Would Smith be willing to leave the champion team and go for bigger money in free agency?
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@TheRealJRSmith