After weeks of frustration over the direction of the franchise, Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith is no longer with the team according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
Smith will work with the team to find him a new destination and the veteran guard will workout individually in the meantime but the sides will not work on buying out his contract.
Smith made some interesting comments to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic that were published on Tuesday morning about the team’s direction, even going as far as to say they’re 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 said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”
The team released the following statement after agreeing to mutually depart:
Smith has spent nearly the last five seasons with the Cavaliers after being acquired from the New York Knicks in January of 2015.
He was a member of four consecutive Eastern Conference Championships and the 2016 NBA Championship team which brought out the infamous “Shirtless J.R.” which appeared everywhere following the championship victory.
The Cavs rewarded Smith with a four-year contract worth $57 million dollars in October of 2016 which of course a lot of people overreacted to the value of it even though contracts were inflated all over the NBA.
Injuries and a decline in performance have hampered Smith since the championship season but he has remained a fan favorite in Cleveland through it all.
In 255 games (222 starts) with the Cavaliers, Smith averaged 10.3 points per game in 29.3 minutes per game. He shot 38.1% from three-point distance which his game is known for.
Smith is earning $14.7 million for the 2018-19 season and will keep getting paid by the Cavaliers during his absence.
He’s due $15.68 million in 2019-20 but only guaranteed $3.87 million which could make him an attractive trade asset if any team finds him worth acquiring.
I don’t fault Smith for speaking out about his frustration about the direction of the organization.
The Cavs preached publicly about how they were going to compete for a playoff spot this season but we all knew or should’ve known once Lebron James left for Los Angeles that this team wasn’t going to be a playoff team.
It isn’t just Smith that’s frustrated. Kyle Korver was told that if Lebron James left that he would traded during the summer, it hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure George Hill and Kevin Love are also frustrated but just haven’t admitted it publicly the way Smith has.