When the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers meet in Santa Barba for a voluntary minicamp, J.R. Smith won’t be in attendance.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Smith isn’t attending as he negotiates a new deal with the Cavs. The team’s other players and coaches are expected to attend the workouts that take place before training camp officially kicks off.
From Windhorst’s report:
Smith's agent, Rich Paul, and the Cavs have been in a standoff since July after Smith opted out of his contract. No recent progress has been made in the talks, sources said. Smith, who played a significant role at both ends is seeking a multiyear deal.
Smith is focused on returning to the Cavs and the team wants him back, but Smith will likely not hesitate to miss part of training camp to wait to see if his leverage changes. Other teams currently have cap space, and events in the preseason can change the situation. Last season, the Cavs were at an impasse with Paul and free agent Tristan Thompson that saw Thompson miss all of the preseason before coming to terms.
Windhorst also notes that Smith and the Cavs are struggling to find common ground in a summer where shooting guards like Kent Bazemore, Courtney Lee and Jamal Crawford have all signed lucrative multi-year contracts.
Last year, Smith was in a similar spot and ultimately signed a deal that guaranteed him $5 million for one year. Out of the deals signed by other wings, Crawford’s three-year, $42 million deal with the Clippers seems like a fair benchmark for the deal Smith will probably sign with the Cavs. And considering Smith played a big part in the Cavaliers coming back from 3-1 against the Warriors in the Finals, he rightfully is expecting a raise.
Is Smith not attending the camp ideal? No, as the Cavs would certainly prefer to have their full roster there getting ready to defend their title. But for Smith, this is certainly the smart call. Although he recently said he hopes to re-sign soon, he isn’t currently under contract. Even if everyone expects him to be back and it’s probably going to happen at some point, he’d be giving in some by attending workouts and linking himself to the Cavs when there are teams out there that have the cap space to sign him if they were so inclined.