Storyline: JR Smith Trade?

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For months, the Cavs felt their top trade piece this summer was Smith’s contract because it’s one of the few left in the NBA that can be traded for its total value ($15.7 million) but only count as a fraction of that against the salary cap. Smith agreed to move the date for which his contract becomes fully guaranteed from June 30 to Aug. 1, in exchange for the guaranteed portion of his deal to increase from $3.9 million to $4.4 million, league sources told The Athletic.

Showtime Forun: “Right now, Cleveland is trying to trade JR Smith and whichever teams that trades for him will waive him. When he’s waived, it is my belief he’ll end up with the Lakers.” @Chris Haynes | @YahooSportsNBA

Smith has a partially guaranteed contract that is appealing to teams looking to shed salary. The Cavs continue to field calls from those interested, including the Miami Heat, sources said. During the season, Cavs executive Brock Aller compiled a lengthy list of teams that could be a fit for Smith’s contract and there are upwards of 15. The acquiring team would then cut Smith before the end of this month, putting them on the hook for just $3.8 million of the $15.6 million he is owed. Smith’s contract represented a team’s final shot to create cap room heading into July free agency.

“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,” general manager Koby Altman said recently. “We are actually the only team in the NBA that can provide guaranteed cap relief until July 1. We can guarantee that right now and we actually had a phone call yesterday on that trade chip, 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.”

If Smith gets waived by June 30, a team could either leave the $3.8 million on its cap for the 2019-20 season or stretch it, spreading the guaranteed money across three years at a rate of $1.29 million. Financial flexibility can’t be easily attained prior to July 1. The Cavs provide that path. In most cases, the Cavs are seeking a first-round pick. If the selection is a late first, similar to the one they received from Houston, they would ask for a young player on a rookie deal or a second draft pick in the future. It’s all about adding assets (picks and players) for this lengthy rebuild.

Even after agreeing to their fourth trade this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers stayed busy on deadline eve, looking to find a new home for exiled swingman JR Smith, and the front office will continue with that goal up until 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon, league sources told cleveland.com. Smith, who hasn’t played organized basketball since Nov. 19, 2018 and was recently spotted at Madison Square Garden as a fan, doesn’t have nearly as much value as some of the other pieces the Cavs have moved recently. Finding a trade partner is “easier said than done,” according to one source.

The team will attempt to trade him and he will work out on his own — away from practice — until a trade occurs. He will no longer play or attend the Cavs’ games, which means he won’t be there for LeBron James’ return with the Lakers on Wednesday. A source close to Smith said the split was “amicable,” and the Cavs are simply “going in a different direction” from where Smith wanted to go. In a statement confirming Smith’s status, the Cavs said the organization “wishes J.R. and his family well and appreciates and thanks him for his contributions in the community, to the team and his role in the 2016 NBA championship.”

Gilbert said he would let Altman handle it, just as Gilbert wants Altman to be the one to work out the contract negotiations with acting coach Larry Drew. “First of all, we appreciate JR and everything he has done for the franchise,” Gilbert said of Smith. “You all remember Game 7 in the second half when we were down I think nine in the second half and it was his eight, nine, 10 points or something like that that really got us back into Game 7 and then we won the championship. Will be forever grateful. That’s what I think of when I think of JR.”

On Tuesday, ESPN reported Smith considered taking a leave because he was informed he’d no longer be playing in the wake of Lue’s firing Sunday. Both Smith and several members of the Cavs’ organization denied that report, insisting instead that it was Altman who made the offer to leave to Smith. “To come from where I came from, from pretty much nothing to Cleveland and the way the city embraced me, the fans embraced me, the relationship I have with them, I can’t do that to them,” Smith said.

But a few days ago, after seeing some questionable body language from Smith, Altman sat down with the mercurial shooting guard and asked him if he wanted to stay with the team or take a leave of absence. Smith opted to stay. “It’s a tough situation as a veteran and I totally understand that,” Drew said. “I’m very glad he decided to stick around. I had no knowledge about what his options were, but yes, I’m very happy that he did make that decision to stay with the team.”

Smith said after shootaround Thursday at Cleveland Clinic Courts that it’s hard for him to put on a Cavs jersey every day, but he will help young players who seek him out even as he’s been dropped from the rotation. “They asked me if I wanted to be around the team and if I didn’t I could leave and go home and do whatever,” Smith said. “I can’t do that to these fans, I can’t do it to the city. To come from where I came from, from pretty much nothing to Cleveland and the way the city embraced me, the fans embraced me, the relationship I have with them, I can’t do that to them. It’s not about me, it’s not about who wants me here and who doesn’t want me here, for me it’s all about the fans.”

Joe Vardon, then of Cleveland.com, reported that Smith’s camp was told this summer he likely would not play this season. But Smith is still upset with what he perceives as a lack of communication, perhaps wanting to hear it directly from General Manager Koby Altman. “I don’t mind taking a back seat or sitting down or if you don’t want me to play, I don’t mind that. But at least communicate that to me,” he said. “To feel like you’re going to play one day, and then you just don’t play, coming from four Finals appearances, starting, winning a championship, and doing all these things. Sacrificing your body and injury and fighting through all of that to be, you can’t even look me in my face and tell me, that’s disrespectful to me.”

JR Smith wants out

Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard JR Smith said he is hoping for a trade, but sources tell cleveland.com he hasn’t officially made that request to management yet. Smith entered this season in a precarious spot, with general manager Koby Altman telling Smith and his camp before training camp that playing time would be sporadic. Smith played four total minutes in the first three games before head coach Tyronn Lue — fired Sunday morning — put him back in the rotation for the fourth and fifth games of the season.

Sources told cleveland.com that after sensing poor body language from Smith and worrying about how his attitude could impact the team, Altman sat down with Smith a few days ago and asked the 33-year-old guard whether he wanted to stay around the team while being glued to the bench. If Smith wasn’t going to be a leader, the needed veteran the youngsters benefit from being around and was instead going to sulk, it would be better for him to go home. Smith opted to stay.
1 year ago via Uproxx

Among the players that make the most sense for matching salary with Butler is J.R. Smith, who is set to make $14.7 million this year with his 2019-20 contract only partially guaranteed. However, Smith isn’t too keen on the idea of going to Minnesota, as he recently told the group of guys with whom he was playing NBA 2K19 as they were getting ready for a game. “They trying to do a trade for Jimmy Butler? I ain’t going to Minnesota,” Smith says. “They can cancel my ticket for that. They can cancel Christmas for that. I ain’t going to no damn Minnesota. They better make it a three-way trade or something.”

Joe Vardon: “They’ve told Kevin Love that they don’t plan to trade him and there’s been discussions with JR Smith and even Kyle Korver, who virtually everyone has circled as a trade candidate, getting them ready to come back to camp. They certainly could move one or more of those guys (I certainly don’t see a move for Kevin right now), and yeah, it really seems like this is what has been communicated to all the players involved, that they’re gonna try this out.”

The Cavaliers continue to engage Sacramento on George Hill, sources told Yahoo Sports, and the Kings have quietly been looking for a third team to involve. The Cavs — who have little interest in taking on the $19 million Hill is owed next season — have pushed for J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to be part of the package, a source said, which the Kings have no interest in. Cleveland has shown a willingness to part with its own first-round pick in other deals, but thus far trading the coveted unprotected Brooklyn Nets pick has not been seriously considered.

Now in their fourth season since James returned, is mental fatigue taking a toll on the Cavs? Sam Amick: It’s a whole lot more complicated than the fatigue factor, and it has everything to do with the layers of dysfunction that the Cavs are battling. Cavs general manager Koby Altman is trying hard to shed the contracts of Tristan Thompson (two years, $36 million remaining) and J.R. Smith ($14.7 million next season, team option worth $15.6 million in 2019-20 with $3.8 million guaranteed), two players who were re-signed in large part because of LeBron’s omnipresent influence. They’re all represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who built the agency with a huge assist from James. As it pertains to the Cavs’ interest in the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, a person with knowledge of that situation said Cleveland continues to offer only its own first-round pick and this kind of unwanted money in those stalled negotiations. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The Cavs contacted Sacramento about a possible trade for guard George Hill, and the New York Times reported that Cleveland has also engaged the Los Angeles Clippers about DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. The Times said the Cavs have floated J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert in possible trades — all of them have been here for each of Cleveland’s last three Finals runs and have seen their roles diminish this season for one reason or another. The Cavs are 1-4 in their last five games and privately their marquee players have suggested the team needs a roster upgrade or two. “I like our group,”Tyronn Lue reiterated. “Until we figure out rotations and getting guys healthy and what we have … I like what we have.”
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January 20, 2020 | 5:00 pm UTC Update
Glushon and Ainge spent the weekend negotiating. On Oct. 21, they announced they had agreed to a four-year, $115 million extension. “That was a unanimous decision,” Stevens says. “What Jaylen has done, as a young player in the role he’s been in, on the winning team he’s been on, there are not a lot of comparables. We want him to be here for a long time.” It was the first rookie-scale extension the Celtics had handed out since signing Rajon Rondo to one back in 2009. “That meant a lot,” Brown says. He adds, however, that signing the deal “definitely wasn’t the easiest decision. It wasn’t as easy as people think. I had a lot of inner battles.” Again, he doesn’t want to reveal too much. Only that: “Anytime you make a decision that affects your future, you gotta do your due diligence. This is the only time as a player I have this ability to think about myself. But ultimately I made the right decision.”
Even though he’s posting career-best numbers and is in the midst of establishing individual records, Terry Rozier isn’t about to proclaim he’s arrived. Far from it in fact. “I feel like I ain’t proved s— yet and it’s not to the doubters,” Rozier said. “I give a damn what they say. It’s more to my loved ones, to my family. People that look at me and I really know how much they care about me. Those are the ones that I really want to show what I can do. And like I said, I haven’t showed them nothing yet and I want to keep improving.”
Fein did not get a chance to sit down and chat with his new guard at the time but spoke highly of him, highlighting his leadership and his feel for the game. “His leadership,” Fein said of Chiozza’s greatest advantage. “He can control the game, control the tempo and has a great feel for the game. He is a big time competitor. He had a lot of success in college, a lot of success last year, and even this year in the G League. Someone on the defensive end who can get into people, make people uncomfortable, and run the team on the other side. I am looking forward to working with him.”
Martin believes his defense is the main area he will make an impact for Long Island … and maybe get some time with Brooklyn. The Nets two-way vows to bring his defensive energy to every game he plays in and will serve any role Shaun Fein and the coaching staff want him to fill. “I bring a little bit of everything, mainly defense,” Martin said. “I bring energy and I know I can bring that every game. Most of the time you know your shot is not going to be there every night but your defensive energy has to be there. I feel like that’s one thing I can bring everyday. Just bringing that energy, bringing that defense, and let the offense follow.” “Bringing whatever the team wants me to do, whether it is on the defensive end or the offensive end and rack up as many wins as we can.”
Who would you say you are the tightest with on the team? Terry Rozier: I’m cool with everybody. I’ve always been like that. Even last year, like I’m cool with the guy that even is the most non-cultured on the team. I’m cool with Willy (Hernangomez), I’m cool with Malik (Monk). I would probably say those two the most. Billy and ‘Lik. Just their everyday spirit. Malik is kind of different. He’s real chill, funny, will say whatever comes to mind. Willy is annoying, but funny at the same time. He likes to have fun with it, a good guy. So he reminds me a lot of Daniel Theis. a guy I’ve been around and you just see that click.
But in late September last year, he decided it was time for a change. He’d recently returned from a trip to China, where he had suited up in the FIBA World Cup for Team USA. He was excited for the tournament. The previous season had worn him down, and he was giddy about the opportunity to rack up some successes, to remember what it felt like to have fun on the court. “I wanted to win that so badly,” he says. “It would have been good for me.” Brown played well, but the team did not, losing twice and failing to qualify for the medal round. “I was devastated,” Brown says. He spent the night after the first defeat to France awake in his hotel room, replaying the game in his head.
“I’m not sure. Right now, (the Timberwolves are) struggling a little bit so we have to get back and (we’re) trying get in a playoff run,” Wiggins said. “That’s my main goal right now. And after that I’m going to decide on Canada basketball. “I never really got a chance to talk to too (many) of the guys, you know. I have great respect for coach (Nick) Nurse and I plan on having a conversation with him eventually.”
Nurse, the Raptors coach who also leads the Canadian team, said he had talked a bit to Wiggins about the possibility of playing and expected a decision shortly. “We’re trying to get all the … best players in, all the best Canadian guys, and it looks pretty good,” Nurse said. “Most of them are already on board and excited about playing. It’s a heck of an opportunity. It’s a chance to go to the Olympics, and you get to play the qualifier in your home country.”
Harris is part of Hoops2O Hoops, aka “The Water Boys,” founded by professional athletes many of whose roots go back to the University of Virginia, Harris’ alma mater. Malcolm Brogdon, the Pacers point guard, initiated the program along with former NFL defensive end Chris Long, a two-time Super Bowl champ. Long put together a video on the group’s mission… “Malcolm is very passionate about it. He had spent some time in Africa growing up,” Harris told the Nets’ Tom Dowd. “He had seen the need for clean drinking water and it had a pretty profound impact on him. He talked to Justin and I about it. Originally, he threw the idea out to Chris. And then one thing led to another.”
The expanded group includes Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Milwaukee’s Donte DiVincenzo, Detroit’s Tim Frazier, and two more recent Virginia players, Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter. They’ve even recruited their college coach, Tony Bennett, as the Hoops2o Head Coach. Through social media and initiatives and in-person events like a meet-and-greet Harris and Temple did earlier this year, they generate contributions toward the goal. “Each guy they have a goal where they, to build a well, it costs $45,000 and each guy their fund-raising goal is 45K,” said Harris. “Everybody sets out to raise 45 individually, and then you get five wells. We raised over a quarter of a million dollars last year. You hold different fundraisers, different events just to help raise money and awareness, and then we all contribute ourselves as well.”
January 20, 2020 | 2:48 pm UTC Update
As one of the returnees on a team with eight newcomers, Kurucs was passed on the depth chart by multiple players until he recently found his stride. After such a promising rookie season in which he averaged 8.9 points per game on 45 percent shooting, Kurucs is averaging 4.3 points on 46 percent shooting this year. He still has the second-half of the year to prevent a sophomore slump, but given the Nets’ depth at forward and uncertainty surrounding his court case — he’s facing multiple domestic violence-related charges stemming from a September arrest — it’s hard not to wonder about his long-term future with the organization.
“I didn’t even know,” Mykhailiuk said Saturday night, after scoring a career high for a second straight game with 25 points in the Pistons’ 136-103 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. “I knew it was a business and sooner or later people get traded. It’s part of the business of the NBA. I was like, ‘Alright, I got to keep doing my thing, working hard and hopefully I’ll play in Detroit.’ ” He’s doing more than playing; he’s excelling.
Antetokounmpo, the overwhelming favorite to win MVP again, believes that line of thinking should be turned the other way, toward the team that is currently on pace to become the third team in NBA history to win 70 games. “I don’t think there’s a team in this league we cannot beat,” Antetokounmpo said. No Eastern Conference team has recorded back-to-back 60-win seasons since James’s Cleveland Cavaliers from 2008-2010. These Bucks bear some resemblance to those Cavaliers.
Milwaukee also might not have the supporting cast that warrants a “SuperTeam” label, but the pieces around Antetokounmpo fit. What else matters? And, while they did blow a 2-0 lead against Toronto, they were a shot or two from being up 3-0 before losing in double overtime. Leonard really was on one. “We’re not worried about it at all. People can think whatever they want. We know what we have going on in this locker room. We know what we need to do and what we need to accomplish. We’re not too worried about any outside influences,” Middleton said, declining to make the above case.
Walker’s 29th try to defeat James comes Monday when his Boston Celtics host the Los Angeles Lakers in the first of two regular-season matchups — assuming that Walker returns after missing the Celtics’ previous game on Saturday with left knee soreness. In eight seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, Walker stepped onto the court against James 24 times in the regular season and four times in the 2014 NBA playoffs, and never left the court with a win.
“I know he still thinks about it a little bit,” said Phoenix Suns center Frank Kaminsky, Walker’s teammate for four seasons with the Hornets, “and he wants to beat him.” The Hornets did have one win against James’ Cleveland Cavaliers when Kaminsky and Walker were teammates — a 106-97 victory in Charlotte on Feb. 3, 2016. But Walker was sidelined by a sore left knee and replaced by Jeremy Lin, who scored 24 in the win.
Steve Clarke, who lives in Norway, first visited the museum by himself while his son was practicing at the FedExForum on Dec. 14. But after going on the tour, he was excited to tell his son about his trip and suggested Brandon attend when he had the time. “I said, ‘This museum is around the people you are around every single day, and it’s part of you as well,’ ” said Steve Clarke. “ ‘Although I am not African American, I am of Jamaican descent, so that is the same thing. They paved for you to get here, otherwise it would not have worked out for me or you.’ ”
The Clarkes spent nearly two hours at the museum. The Grizzlies forward said the exhibit on slavery touched him the most. His father added Clarke was stunned about how poorly African Americans were treated and made a point to talk to his son about the importance of freedom. “He stayed for everything. Watched everything and listened to everything. I was really happy to see that he was interested to see that,” Steve Clarke said. “I felt good about it. I didn’t know if he really wanted to see anything like that. That is not something we really talk about on a regular basis.”
“All these other idiots who don’t play basketball and never played basketball, when they say you wanna judge a guy’s greatness by number of championships … they’re idiots.” It’s safe to say Robert Horry is fed up with NBA fans using rings instead of common sense in debates … telling TMZ Sports titles don’t mean a damn thing when talkin’ G.O.A.T.s. “Here’s the thing that people are so stupid about. They measure great players by how many championships they win. It’s the stupidest thing,” Big Shot Bob told us at the California Strong charity softball game on Sunday.
January 20, 2020 | 12:46 pm UTC Update
“Thankful, most of all,” Carter says of the treatment. “And I say that because I was an opponent for 22 years for most of these teams and obviously these are great organizations that are class acts and for them to do that is great. “I just enjoy playing the game regardless of being an opponent of these different organizations … regardless, it’s a brotherhood, it’s a small community and it makes for an emotional roller coaster.”
And he will hearken back to those glory days of the early 2000s and that special night in Oakland he got to witness in person. “I tell you what, I was thankful that I was able to be there and see those guys win. I remember sitting next to Tracy (McGrady) and thinking, ‘Do you believe what’s about to happen?’ There was like two minutes left, and it was like, ‘Dude, this is unreal.’
“It’s different, but I prefer my people on the East Coast,” Bradley said. “Some people might be offended by that, but I mean, especially knowing I’m from the West Coast. I don’t know if it’s because it’s home for me or what, but I just feel like people are real good friends. That’s all it is. I could go years without talking to someone in Boston but [when] I see them, it’s a real friendship. People are honest, that’s the culture. East Coast, but specifically Boston. People are just good people.”
Even if he does decide to play, he may make his signal behind the scenes in the coming weeks and let the world know when he arrives at training camp. For now, Wiggins is keeping his cards close to his chest. “I’m not sure [about the summer],” he said Saturday after recording his first career triple-double in a Timberwolves loss to the Toronto Raptors. “Right now my team is struggling a little bit [they were five games out of the 8th seed in the West as of Sunday] so we have to get back and try to get in a playoff run. That’s my main goal right now. And after that I’m going to decide on Canada Basketball.”

January 20, 2020 | 1:29 am UTC Update
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