Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard JR Smith, a key cog in the team’s 2016 championship run, has been in NBA exile since the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, when he publicly expressed his desire to be traded and then left the team. Smith is in the final season of the four-year, $57 million contract he signed with the Cavs following their NBA title, with this last year being just partially guaranteed, a piece the Cavs thought would be attractive to teams in a potential trade. Unable to find a trade that made sense for both sides, the Cavs will now stretch and waive Smith, per The Athletic‘s Joe Vardon, finally freeing Smith from basketball purgatory.
The Cavs have been trying to find a suitor for Smith’s contract since his departure from the team, and were willing to take on “two-plus years of bad money” to help facilitate, per Cleveland.com. But the Cavs’ asking price of a future first-round pick proved to be too steep for teams, though the Cavs were reportedly close to sending Smith to Golden State in exchange for Andre Iguodala before the Warriors sent him to Memphis.
Stretching Smith’s contract over the next three seasons will allow the Cavs to duck back under the luxury tax and reset their “repeat offender” clock, a tax they paid every season with LeBron James on the roster. Smith shined during the 2016 and 2017 postseasons, shooting 43 and 50 percent from deep, respectively. He has not appeared in an NBA game since Nov. 19, 2018.