Greed: The Root Of J.R. Smith’s Free Agency And Why It’s Justified


J.R. Smith is still a free agent because of two factors, greed and his desire to stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Something has to give before the season starts.

J.R. Smith is still a free agent, which is somewhat of a surprise given the importance he is to the Cleveland Cavaliers. A major part of it is the greed that Smith has, and it is certainly justified.

Smith, 31, is possibly getting his last big payday with the downswing of his career nearing. Like all other free agents, he wants a larger contract, in part, because the NBA’s salary cap rose to $94 million.

Basketball Insider‘s Steve Kyler previously reported that the Cavaliers offered Smith a deal around $10 million annually. That clearly isn’t enough for Smith’s camp since he hasn’t signed a new deal yet. In July, Kyler reported that Smith wanted $15 million annually.

What’s the hold up?

The Cavs are already well over the luxury tax line for the 2016-17 season, which means owner Dan Gilbert will have to pay an additional $3.75 for every dollar Smith is paid. His deal for one year would cost Gilbert around $43 million, as opposed to the $15 that Smith would be paid at his requested rate.

Gilbert’s problem isn’t whether he has the money to pay Smith, it’s the desire to not pay a fortune in luxury taxes. He’s proven that he is willing to open the pocket book and pay players to win a championship in Cleveland, so why not pay up to defend the title?

Related Story: 5 Landing Spots For J.R. Smith If He Leaves Cleveland

Smith’s greed, if you want to call it that, is justified. Look at the Cavs projected starting rotation and see what they’re making.

LeBron James will make over $30 million this season. For having trade rumors swirling around his name constantly, Kevin Love will make over $21 million. Kyrie Irving, who hit one of the most iconic NBA Finals shots, is due $17.6 million. Tristan Thompson, who only started 34 games last season, is set to make $15.3 million.

Smith simply wants to be paid starters money, at least in the eyes of the Cavaliers organization. To pay him around $10 million annually would net him much closer to Iman Shumpert‘s $9.6 million that he is scheduled to make.

Smith’s agent is Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group, who is the same agent of LeBron James and notably Tristan Thompson. It was last season that Thompson held out until five days before the season’s opener to earn his big payday.

It’s possible that this drags out through training camp and near the start of the NBA season. But that shouldn’t be a worry to Cavs fans because they’ve seen this situation play out before, or should it?

The luxury tax wasn’t as big of a deal with Thompson’s holdout, though it still played a factor. Cleveland also hadn’t won a championship yet, which helped make the decision to pay Thompson.

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With the rising salary cap, paying Smith becomes more difficult because his market value has risen. That means more tax dollars for Gilbert, which at $43 million per year may not be worth the investment, even in trying to defend a championship.

Is Smith worthy of making $15 million per year? Yes. Is Smith a key part of the Cavaliers’ team? It has yet to be determined by Cavs management.

Don’t rule out the possibility of Smith being signed to a new deal, opening up trade avenues around the NBA’s trade deadline as the Cavs try to cut salary to lessen their luxury tax.

Right now, all bets are off on the J.R. Smith situation, but he is worth every penny of what he is seeking in his new deal.

Related Story: Why The Cavs Need To Keep J.R. Smith

What are your thoughts on the J.R. Smith situation? Will the Cavs still re-sign him, and how much will he be making? Share your thoughts in the comments section or follow and tweet us @KJG_NBA.