The Cavaliers didn’t expect JR Smith to still be on their roster.
Cleveland — which has been looking to move the 33-year-old guard and his partially guaranteed $15.6 million contract for 2019-20 — is “surprised they haven’t found a taker yet, believing they made better salary-dump offers than others accepted this offseason,” according to a report from Cleveland.com.
The Cavaliers are expected to release Smith if they can’t find a suitable trade. They have already pushed back the date Smith’s deal for next season becomes fully guaranteed and they may do that again, according to the report.
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 Cleveland.com.
“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. “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.
Smith 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.
Cleveland also added Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland, Belmont wing Dylan Windler and USC guard Kevin Porter Jr. in the first round of the 2019 draft last month.