J.R. Smith doesn’t do things the easy way. That’s simply not in his nature. When he opted out of the final year of his current contract, the idea was that he’d force Cleveland’s hand and wring some more money out of them or ply his wares elsewhere with better offers. But that’s not how things panned out.
The market for his services grew conspicuously quiet during free agency, and in a stunning reversal of fortune, the Cavs have reportedly now offered the enigmatic shooting guard less than the $6.4 million he stood to make next season had he not opted out. Via Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer:
“Only two teams probably have the salary cap room to offer Smith a contract that would be considered a raise — Philadelphia and Portland. It’s doubtful either will do so.
The Cavs have made him an offer. I hear it’s less than $6.4 million that he turned down. They know Smith is not thrilled with a lesser deal. But right now, he has no leverage, and a one-year contract puts him in position to cash in next summer when the salary cap rises 30 percent.
Smith may continue to wait. But right now, it seems Cleveland is his only option.”
A healthy amount of self-awareness has never been Smith’s calling card. Nothing screams obliviousness like making a splashy entrance to the NBA Finals on a PhunkeeDuck only to have to follow that up with the most hilariously tragic exit of all-time on said hovercraft after an ugly Game 4 loss.
It’s the same character flaw that caused him to vastly overestimate both his worth and his stature around the league, despite the fact that he was coming off both an unglamorous end to his tenure with the Knicks, of which team president Phil Jackson has recently cited “delinquent behavior” as a determining factor (however exaggerated that might be). Then there’s the disappearing act in the NBA Finals during which his numbers sharply declined when his team needed him most, too.
But nevermind the haters, J.R. You just keep doing you.