After much ado, it appears that J.R. Smith will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on a four-year deal worth about $57 million, as first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Smith and the Cavs’ front office have been in protracted negotiations since the summer, even after LeBron James made it clear he wanted to bring Smith back into the fold. Smith has emerged as an integral part of the team that brought the city of Cleveland its first championship in more than 50 years last spring.
In recent weeks, Cavs GM David Griffin had indicated that they’d made a highly competitive offer to Smith, and it now appears as if equally-aggressive interest from other teams aided the process.
Smith, who’s been vying for a long-term deal with the team for the past two offseasons, wasted no time in publicly expressing his gratitude via social media. But that wasn’t the only piece of exciting news he had to share.
With their core group intact, the Cavs will now embark on their title defense when the 2016-2017 season gets underway at the end of the month. They’ll be the favorites to win the East again next spring, and a revamped Warriors squad will likely end up being their biggest obstacle to repeat as champs in June.