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The Milwaukee Bucks are interested in exiled Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith and you can be certain Smith has interest in the Bucks.
But any sort of relationship between the two will likely have to wait. Smith is at the point where he would accept a buyout out of his contract, simply because he wants to play (and a nice fat check). The Cavs have no desire to offer one anymore — simply because it just doesn’t benefit them.
They can again try to trade Smith after the season, and most certainly will. A trade will come easier then, about $4 million of Smith’s salary next season is guaranteed. In the NBA, that’s peanuts. It makes him a perfect trade-for-and-waive candidate for another team.
The Cavs can also just waive him themselves and just count the $4 million toward next season’s salary cap.
But not everything involving Smith is beneficial to the Cavs. The contract is an albatross and Smith hasn’t played since November, when the sides officially parted ways.
Here’s more from Joe Vardon of The Athletic, who first reported of the Bucks’ interest in Smith:
“A problem with refusing to buy out Smith, in the hope of trading his contract later, is Smith was already excommunicated from the team in November for his behavior, and there is virtually no chance he would return to play for the Cavs next season. So if he were to remain on Cleveland’s roster through the summer and into next season, we’d be talking about a 34-year old who hadn’t played in the NBA in two full seasons.”
According to Vardon, “Smith would consider giving back maybe $1 million” of this year’s salary in a buyout, and that’s not a figure the Cavs would consider.
As for the Bucks, well, they don’t have these sort of issues. All they have is the league’s best record (43-14) and perhaps its best player in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Their mission is to land another veteran wing to help with a playoff run. There has even been talk they though about, then quickly forgot, the possibility of adding Carmelo Anthony. And say what you will about Smith, but he has been a starting shooting guard in each of the previous four Finals. He is the type of veteran shooter who can heat up on a moment’s notice — and if you’re the Bucks, just the threat of that can open things up for others.
But the Bucks and everyone else will need to remain patient, and if they want help for the playoffs, likely to turn their attention away from Smith. A resolution isn’t likely to come before the March 1 deadline for free agents to be eligible for the playoffs.