As the NBA’s February trade deadline came and went, the Cleveland Cavaliers received calls about moving disgruntled shooting guard JR Smith, who had been away from the team since November. But members of Cleveland’s front office believed it made more sense to wait until the summer, thinking better offers would come — the pressure of July 1 playing a significant role.
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“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.
Now, you might counter that the Cavs could buy out JR Smith and get him to leave some money on the table to create some room to operate. But that’s not going to happen because the Cavs have every intention of trying to trade him in June. If they need another body over the last 22 games, there’s always the two-way guys.
Smith, who was sent away on Nov. 19, a move that the front office felt was best for the organization moving forward, will remain on the Cavaliers roster and the team will likely re-engage in trade conversations this offseason.
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.
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 Cavaliers are continuing to add draft assets, and are still pursuing trades for guard Alec Burks and JR Smith prior to Thursday’s trade deadline. With in-season trades for Hood, Kyle Korver, George Hill and Sam Dekker, Cleveland has acquired seven draft picks – including a first-rounder and six second-round choices.
Teams are monitoring whether Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith will become available in the buyout market after the NBA’s trade deadline — if he isn’t traded. The Rockets expressed interest in Smith dating back to the summer.
As reported earlier this month, Houston has expressed exploratory interest in Cleveland’s J.R. Smith, who has been sent home by the Cavaliers as they try to find a new home for him via trade. But the Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is said to be the Rockets’ top target in their search for help on the wing, with Smith somewhere further down the list.
Marc Stein: The Rockets have expressed exploratory interest in acquiring JR Smith, according to league sources. Smith is currently on hiatus from the Cavaliers as Cleveland seeks a new home for the veteran shooting guard via trade
Kevin O’Connor: Expect the Cavaliers to try to move on next from JR Smith. I heard this week they received some interest for Smith from the Rockets and Pelicans—both teams need depth at the wing position. Smith’s 2019-20 salary is guaranteed for only $3.9M, so it has some value as a trade chip.
Another situation Houston is monitoring is the one playing out in Cleveland, sources said. The Cavaliers are aggressive in the market, looking to move some of their veterans. They have made it clear that they are moving in a younger direction, recently parting ways with J.R. Smith as they seek a trade for him. George Hill is another guard whose salary they would like to shed, but his $19 million price tag may make it difficult to find a taker.
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.”
Smith will continue to be paid his $14.7 million salary to stay away. A source close to him said he was working with the Cavs for a trade but not a buyout of his contract. He’s under contract for $15.6 million next season but only $3.8 million guaranteed — which makes him a valuable asset for a team looking to clear salary next summer.
Albert Nahmad: JR Smith’s contract pays out $14.7M in 2018-19, and has a $15.7M salary for 2019-20 that’s only partially guaranteed for $3.9M if he’s waived by 6/30 – which could be useful for the Cavs as a salary-match filler in trade and/or for a team looking to clear salary for next summer.
Albert Nahmad: JR Smith’s contract would count $14.7M in a trade executed before trade deadline (2/7). Because it was signed under prior CBA, it’d also count $14.7M if executed after season and before 6/30 (otherwise, would’ve counted $3.9M outgoing and $14.7M incoming). Makes it more valuable.
Albert Nahmad: Because the benefits associated with JR Smith’s contract extend all the way through June 30, it wouldn’t necessarily be surprising if he stays on the Cavs roster for an extended period if they can’t find an optimal trade (unless they need the roster spot, Smith gets upset, etc.).
The Cleveland Cavaliers announced today that JR Smith will no longer be with team as the organization works with JR and his representation regarding his future. The organization wishes JR 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.
Then there is JR Smith. He is finding it harder and harder to hide his contempt toward the organization these days. Smith has asked to be traded twice, but he’s still here in part because he refuses to accept a buyout. He made it clear in a conversation with The Athletic on Monday that he has no relationship with general manager Koby Altman and he has no interest in playing for a team that has no interest in winning.
“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.” And as long as the Cavs are operating this way, Smith is not interested in being part of it. “Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he said.
Rick Bonnell: Cavs interim coach Larry Drew playing J.R. Smith. Smith was outside the rotation in the Cavs’ youth movement, answered in the affirmative recently when asked if he’d welcome a trade.
Also, sources close to Smith have said he will not ask for or accept a buyout. So this is how it’s going to be for Smith and the Cavs this season — they’ll stay married with their eyes elsewhere, in the meantime trying to get along.
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.”
Rick Noland: Drew says JR will be active. “It’s a tough situation as a veteran. I totally understand that. … The most important thing is to stay professional. JR is trying to do that”
Marla Ridenour: NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he spoke to #Cavs GM Koby Altman about J.R. Smith answering question if he wanted to be traded with, “Yeah.” Sounds like Smith might escape possible league fine as reported by @Adrian Wojnarowski
Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith said he hopes to be traded, but declined the front office’s suggestion that he leave the team because he felt he owed it to the fans who embraced him. “Yeah. Honestly. They know,” Smith said when asked about his wiish to be dealt. “They don’t want me, so they obviously know.”
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.”
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.
According to a league source, trading Smith is “easier said than done.” He has statistically been one of the league’s worst players the last two years, which is why, more than anything else, the front office didn’t agree with Lue’s decision to play him. His contract is also an obstacle. Smith is making $14.7 million this season. His $15.6 million contract is partially guaranteed for $3.8 million in 2019-20.
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.
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.”
Zach Lowe: “I’ve heard [the Rockets] have also kicked the tires on JR Smith. That’d be good.”
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.
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.
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.
I have heard the Cavs have been offering J.R. Smith to various teams. Smith is paid $13.7 million this season. He has a $14.7 million deal in 2018-19. He has a $15.7 million salary ($3.9 million guaranteed) for 2019-20.
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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May 21, 2019 | 4:55 pm EDT Update
Joe Freeman: Neil Olshey just broke news: The Blazers have given coach Terry Stotts a contract extension. It was completed about 20 minutes ago.
At 7 feet 5 inches (2.26 meters) tall, Gursimran “Sim” Bhullar is hard to miss. He stood out even more after becoming the first basketball player of Indian origin to step onto a court in an NBA game. Called on for the final 16 seconds, it was a fleeting moment that he hadn’t been sure would ever arrive. “I had to go on the court and do my job, so I wasn’t thinking anything of it,” the 26-year-old center tells CNN. He signed a 10-day contract with the Sacramento Kings who faced the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 5, 2015.
While he hopes to return to the prestigious league, he says the NBA game has changed. “They are playing more small ball and at a quicker pace, so for me to fit into that system is hard,” Sim Bhullar says. “I have been working on my game, from getting into better shape and moving faster.”
Bhullar has also tried to popularize the game in India by opening courts and helping children to play. And he’s moved by the passion that already exists for the game. “I would go to the courts in the morning and there would be a bunch of kids playing. I was in awe… I saw some kids with broken shoes… and they were running around and playing basketball.”
Dylan Windler now travels to Chicago, where he is staying ahead of the draft to train with fellow clients of Priority Sports & Entertainment and agent Mark Bartelstein. He will then visit with the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics.