J.R. Smith, as expected, was absent from the Cavaliers’ media day as he and the team continue to negotiate a new deal. In the opening moments of his availability, Cavs GM David Griffin offered up an update on Smith’s status.
"As we have stated and coach has previously stated, we think very highly of J.R. and we love him as a member of our team, as a member of our locker room," Griffin said. "He was essential to our success and for that reason we have made an incredibly competitive and aggressive offer in re-signing him."
"We've been a team that has become really accustomed to a 'Next man up' mentality and we expect this will be no different," Griffin continued. "Not at all something that will be used as an excuse here in any way, shape or form. But we truly believe J.R. feels the same way about us. We hope this is done in very short order."
Smith is reportedly looking for a deal that will pay him around $15 million annually. As the summer has gone one, the market for his services has largely dried up and, unless a team like the Nuggets or 76ers were interested, Cleveland is his one option. One hold-up may be that Smith knows that Cleveland can’t replace him and the floor spacing he provides from the shooting guard spot.
Griffin wasn’t the only member of the organization to field questions on Smith. Both LeBron James and Tristan Thompson fielded questions about Smith during their individual press availability.
"We all know, from you guys, us in the locker room and from the organization, that J.R. is a huge piece of our team and without him we don't win a championship last year,” James said. “He brings a dimension to our team that we just don't have. He's a two-way player, he's a space guy, a great locker room guy and he's been great in the community and things of that nature as well. We look forward to getting him back and hopefully we can get it done as soon as possible because we miss the guy."