However, one new report suggests that Smith will be dealt by the end of June.
Joe Vardon of The Athletic referenced Smith’s situation and what will likely occur by the time NBA free agency gets underway on July 1:
“JR Smith, in name only, is the other remaining Cavs participant from every finals. He’s been in exile since November, and Cleveland will trade his contract by next month. His career could be over after that.”
The reason for Smith’s shaky future within the NBA is that any team that acquires him will undoubtedly then release him. That’s because the final year of his four-year contract only guarantees him $3.87 million of the $15.68 million he had been scheduled to make.
Last month, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com explained why teams would be interested in trading for Smith, who turns 34 years of age in September and has seen his performance decline in recent years:
“If the mercurial shooting guard, who has been exiled from Cleveland since November, gets waived by the end of June, a team could either leave the $3.8 million on its cap for the 2019-20 season or stretch it, spreading the guaranteed money across three years at a rate of $1.29 million. Either way, it’s no longer a contract that’s detrimental. Quite the opposite. His contract has plenty of appeal to cap-strapped teams looking to shed salary in the final days before free agency.”
The Cavaliers cut their ties with Smith after he accused the team in November of deliberately tanking the 2018-19 season in order to obtain a high draft pick. The Cavaliers embarked on a rebuilding program and finished with a 19-63 mark.
While the results made for a painful season, they allowed the Cavs to be one of three teams with the best chance of acquiring the top pick in June’s NBA draft.