NBA trade rumors: Heat interested in ‘salary-designed’ deal for Cavaliers’ JR Smith

JR Smith could be on a new team soon.

The Heat are interested in a “salary-designed trade” with the Cavaliers for the 33-year-old shooting guard, according to a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, which cites unidentified league sources.

The report notes:

“The Heat also have contracts they could look to move in the offseason in a deal such as this and would have to absorb Smith’s deal.”

Smith played in just 11 games in 2018-19 before he agreed to part ways with the Cavaliers and sat out the rest of the season. Cleveland had a chance to move Smith before the deadline but decided to hold on to him with the hopes of dealing him this summer, according to an earlier report from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Smith will become a free agent after 2019-20.

“We have a trade chip in JR Smith, and his contract, where we can take on some money that other teams are trying to get some cap relief from,” Cleveland general manager Koby Altman told reporters in mid-April. “We are actually the only team in the NBA that can provide guaranteed cap relief until July 1. We can guarantee that right now.

“So, we’re going to keep on being aggressive adding those assets because we do eventually want to consolidate and be really good at some point.”

Smith was traded from the Knicks to Cleveland in January 2015. He was a valuable contributor during the Cavaliers’ championship run in 2015-16 but he has declined since then.

He averaged 8.3 points in 2017-18 and just 6.7 during his 11 appearances last season. The veteran has also played for New Orleans and Denver over his 15-year NBA career.

The Cavaliers finished 2018-19 with a 19-63 record and missed the playoffs. They mutually agreed to part ways with coach Larry Drew after the season and hired John Beilein away from Michigan to replace him.

“Rebuild is not a word we’re going to use here, I saw it more as a renaissance,” Beilein told reporters at his introductory press conference. “Look at all those banners up there. It’s been done before. Why can’t it be done again?”

The Cavaliers hold the fifth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.