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J.R. Smith has been hanging out in Ocean County, N.J., but his mind is on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Smith is a free agent guard and clearly wants to re-sign with the NBA champions. And the Cavs clearly want him back.
A solution should be easy — Smith will return to the Cavs.
Well, not always.
It would make plenty of sense if everyone agreed on dollars, but there’s always the sticking point.
And now, contract talks between Smith and the Cavs are likely to take a serious turn.
Media day is scheduled for Sept. 26, and the Cavs want Smith in training camp. He wants to be there, too.
But the only thing Smith has said on record came in the form of a video from Uninterrupted.
“I know you guys are going to ask about my contract situation,” Smith said from his annual golf outing in Lakewood Township, N.J.
Smith then referred “you guys” to his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul also happens to be the agent for Smith’s Cavaliers teammates, LeBron James and Tristan Thompson, as well as the agent for several others around the league.
One of those players is former Cleveland State guard Norris Cole, another free agent without a team. But Paul’s priority is said to be Smith and the Cavs, and Smith is said to be itching to get signed.
In a crazy summer of free agency spending, it’s believed Smith is open to being reasonable about his next deal.
Money isn’t the only consideration. He is comfortable in Cleveland and really enjoyed playing for Cavs coach Tyronn Lue.
On top of that, the Cavs have built something special and Smith wants to keep being a part of it.
As for the Cavs, they liked how Smith improved his defense and really came alive with some clutch shooting down the stretch. He got better as the Cavs marched to their title.
Smith averaged 12.4 points in the regular season, then shot 43 percent on 3-pointers in the playoffs. He averaged 11.5 points in 21 playoff games as the starting shooting guard.
But he turns 31 years old Sept. 9. So he’s at the stage of his career where he seems to favor the idea of staying with one team — especially one that’s coming off a championship.
Working against Smith is the fact he hasn’t exactly generated much interest. This despite the fact he’s an unrestricted free agent. That means he can sign with another team and the Cavs can’t match the offer to keep him.
So how much does Smith want? And how much are the Cavs willing to pay?
All of it remains a mystery, and any speculation beyond that is pretty much hearsay.
All anyone really knows is Smith is determined to play for the Cavs, and the Cavs are determined to make sure he does.
How they get there, though, isn’t nearly as simple.