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With the start of the NBA season now less than two weeks away, J.R. Smith and the Cleveland Cavaliers have still yet to come to an agreement on a new contract.
Smith has made it no secret that he wants to return to the Cavs, but according to a report on Friday from ESPN’s Marc Stein, the two sides aren’t making any progress.
As the impasse continues, Stein says, Smith will soon have no choice but to start talking with other teams around the NBA about a potential last-minute deal.
“The Cavs, according to league sources, were offering an annual salary in the range of $10 million to $11 million for some time and any subsequent movement northward hasn’t been sufficient to close the gap on what Smith is seeking.”
While $10 or $11 million annually certainly sounds like a nice sum for Smith, remember that this summer featured a number of other free agents inking massive contracts. Evan Turner, for comparison’s sake, will make $17.5 million annually as part of his new, four-year, $70 million contract in Portland.
Smith presumably wants something comparable, though the Cavs are already well over the cap as it is.
Stein reported that six teams have the potential cap space to sign Smith.
“Sources say it’s only a matter of time before Smith starts engaging with other teams. There are currently six, for the record, with anywhere from $13 million to $27 million in available cap space: Minnesota, Phoenix, Utah, Denver, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.”
According to Stein, the Celtics are interested in Smith, though they are not actively pursuing him at the moment.
Members of the Cavs, including LeBron James, have taken to social media this summer to urge their front office to get a deal done with Smith. And although he’s an erratic and occasionally frustrating player, Smith is still a key part of Cleveland’s roster. The defending champs be worse without him.