The Cavaliers need to resign J.R. Smith
After winning the 2016 NBA title, the Cavaliers had some free agency decisions to make. Cleveland resigned Richard Jefferson to a two-year deal after speculation he would retire. They also improved their three-point barrage by trading for Mike Dunleavy. As a result of the questionable free agency deals throughout the NBA, Timofey Mozgov (4 years/$64mil) and Matthew Dellavedova (sign-and-trade) were not resigned by the defending NBA champs. To fill their frontcourt void on the bench, Chris “Birdman” Andersen was signed to a 1 year deal.
Yet, as the Cavaliers reload for another championship run, there is one player the team must resign.
J.R. Smith, who was a “throw in” with Iman Shumpert when they were traded to Cleveland two seasons ago, was a integral piece to the Cavaliers championship team. While J.R. was simply known as a shooter, he also caused many defensive problems during the NBA Finals, leading to the “Splash Brothers” having underwhelming stat lines. As the Cavaliers faced a 3–1 deficit, Smith, along with James and Irving, led the charge to the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.
Smith, who has stated he wants to stay in Cleveland, is requesting $15 million per year. With the salary cap raise, Smith’s demand isn’t exactly ridiculous. This year, the Clippers signed Jamal Crawford (36) to a three year, $42 million deal. Crawford’s deal, along with other shooting guards’ (Evan Fournier, Courtney Lee, Eric Gordon) show that Smith’s (31) requested deal isn’t farfetched. Given his performance throughout the NBA Playoffs and his age, Smith may be considered a bargain.
This season, J.R. improved greatly on the defensive side of the court. Compared to his 2014/15 campaign, Smith grabbed 57 more rebounds, 17 more steals, and blocked 3 more shots. He also had a 41.5% field goal percentage, while shooting 40% from the three point line. In the postseason, Smith increased his field goal and three point percentages to 43%, which helped the Cavaliers clinch their first NBA title.
Last year, the Cavaliers’ front office battled with Tristan Thompson’s camp on a deal until October 21. When Thompson was signed for five years, $82 million, many NBA analysts and fans laughed and scolded the Cavaliers. Yet, in the Finals, Thompson exposed the Warriors’ achilles heal by being a nuisance on the offensive boards. Now, GM David Griffin appears to be a genius by signing Thompson for less money than Timofey Mozgov. The Cavaliers now face the same situation with Smith, but like Thompson, he must be resigned.
J.R. Smith’s perimeter defense was a large reason why Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson struggled throughout the NBA Finals.
With Smith, the Cavaliers have a great perimeter shooter, defender, and a guard who fits around LeBron James. Before coming to Cleveland, J.R. was known for his off-court antics and the trouble he caused in locker rooms. Yet, under the leadership of LeBron James, Smith has blossomed into the basketball player most organizations imagined he would be. Now an NBA Champion, Smith appears to have bought into the idea of simply playing basketball and partying later.
In Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers trailed the Warriors by seven points. As the 2nd half began, Smith scored eight points, was a spark on defense, and brought the Cavs back into the game. J.R. is loved by the city of Cleveland and was one of the most important pieces in the team that ended their championship curse.
Before looking elsewhere for their plumbing needs, the Cavaliers need to bring The Pipe back to the Land.