JR Smith away from Cavs as team seeks trade


JR Smith and the Cleveland Cavaliers have mutually agreed for him to leave the team as both sides work to find a trade, sources told ESPN.

The team issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging the arrangement.

“The organization wishes JR and his family well and appreciates and thanks him for his contributions in the community, to the team and his role in the 2016 NBA Championship,” it said.

Smith and the Cavaliers’ front office have been at odds all season. General manager Koby Altman previously discussed him leaving the team and Smith had chosen to remain. But the situation was inflamed Monday when Smith gave an interview to The Athletic in which he essentially accused the Cavs of tanking.

“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith told The Athletic. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”

Smith, who played just six minutes in the Cavs’ loss in Detroit, had already requested a trade and now will work out privately until one can be implemented. The two sides are not currently considering a buyout arrangement, sources said. Smith is earning $14.7 million this season, and $3.8 million of his $15.6 million salary for next season is guaranteed.

Playing time for Smith had a role in coach Tyronn Lue being fired by the franchise earlier this season. Lue favored veteran players like Smith, Kyle Korver and Channing Frye while the front office preferred that the Cavs play younger players.

The Cavs are 2-13 and franchise player Kevin Love is out indefinitely following toe surgery. If the Cavs’ draft pick doesn’t fall in the top 10 this season, the selection goes to the Atlanta Hawks as part of a 2017 trade for Korver. That factor could incentivize the Cavs to make sure they finish with one of the worst records in the league.

Smith’s contract is grandfathered in to a quirk in the collective bargaining agreement allowing for his full salary in the 2019-20 season to be counted in possible trades. Under the new rules, only the guaranteed portion of a salary can be counted for matching purpose. Because of this, Smith’s contract has a measure of value in trade next summer and because of this the Cavs have been reluctant to buy Smith out, sources said.

Smith, 33, is averaging a career-low 6.7 points and shooting just 34 percent this season.

The Cavs host former star LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

Source : ESPN