It appears as though J.R. Smith’s time with the Cleveland Cavaliers is over. The veteran shooting guard has been excused by the team and will work out on his own while waiting for a trade.
Smith will not discuss a buyout with the Cavaliers, as he previously had told The Athletic. The news of Smith being excused from the team was first reported by The Athletic’s Joe Vardon, who described the situation as “amicable.”
JR Smith will no longer be actively with the Cavs, a league source tells me. He is working with the team to trade him, and in the meantime will work out on his own— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) November 20, 2018
The breakup is ‘amicable,’ the source said, and the two sides are not working on a buyout at this time https://t.co/MF6zcKc2Wk— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) November 20, 2018
There will always be a lot of he said, she said in situations like this. But the one thing that appears clear is that there has been a breakdown in communication.
Smith, like a lot of the other veterans, feel as though the team has not been upfront about their plans going into this season. If the team was serious about trying to win this year, that plan was gutted almost immediately with the foot issues suffered by Kevin Love.
The Cavs are missing two of their best players in Love and George Hill and have been hit by the injury bug all season. They may not have been a playoff team if completely healthy, but it’s hard to say that what has happened to this point has been part of any plan with the volume of unexpected roadblocks that have come up.
It’ll be tough for the team to find a trade partner for Smith, given their lack of leverage and the size of his contract.
The breakup of the Cavs championship roster has been tough to watch. There has been no graceful ride off into the sunset, only hurt feelings and confusion. Smith’s play has fallen off since the title, but has still contributed positive moments since that point and was a key member of the last two Finals runs.
Smith embraced the Cleveland community and the fans loved him back. While his playing days with the team are over, he will likely always be remembered fondly by the fans of this franchise. He brought life to the team, excitement, and was a key part of the highest highs the franchise has ever known. Hard to wish him anything but the best in this next chapter.