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If you’re wondering what will happen next with shooting guard J.R. Smith, feel free to guess.
Not even the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to know.
Smith is in basketball limbo. He’s still on the roster. He’s still getting paid (and paid a lot). But he is no longer with the team. His time with the Cavs is over.
Just don’t ask the Cavs, or Smith, or anyone around the league what’s next.
The Cavs would actually prefer to write a big check and buy out Smith’s contract. He is being paid $14.7 million for the season.
Smith would prefer a trade. Neither scenario appears to be on the way.
While most will tell you there’s no way the Cavs will be able to trade Smith with that salary, ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski has actually indicated otherwise. In fact, Wojnarowski said during a recent appearance on The Jump that he expects Smith will be “somewhere else this season.”
Of course, that was before Smith and the Cavs decided they’re better off apart. With Smith not playing, it may be a case of “out of sight, out of mind” as far as opposing teams are concerned. And if it’s like that already, imagine what it will be like when the trade deadline comes in February.
Smith finished his time with the Cavaliers as a 33-year-old shooting guard who averaged a career-low 6.7 points per game. Not exactly the type of player contenders are dying to acquire.
The Cavs actually discussed a possible Smith trade with the Houston Rockets over the summer, according to sources. But the talks died pretty quickly, and then-Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, who had been discussed as a possible return for the Cavs, has since been traded to the Phoenix Suns.
Still, the Rockets might again have an interest if they feel a veteran shooter such as Smith will fit in and help them in reserve come playoff time. They certainly could find the salaries to match, and sources have indicated they would certainly be open to trading point guard Brandon Knight and forward Marquese Chriss (obtained in the Anderson trade).
Knight and Chriss for Smith works, salary-wise, but it’s doubtful the Rockets would actually go through with it. Those two could undoubtedly be packaged for a better player.
Smith is liked other places, but again, the money will always get in the way. Perhaps there will come a time where he accepts no one else is interested, and at that point, accept a buyout.
Anyway, that’s all speculation at this point. When it comes to the Cavs and Smith, reality is something entirely different.