It can be easy to forget that J.R. Smith is still a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Smith has been away from the team for over a month now as the franchise looks to trade away their fan-favorite guard. With Smith unwilling to accept a buyout and with the team looking to recuperate some value from the situation by flipping his non-guaranteed deal in a trade.
Sham Charina of The Athletic and Stadium recently reported that teams are monitoring the situation with Smith and view him as a potential buyout candidate. He also mentioned that the Houston Rockets have had interest in the Cavs shooting guard since the off-season.
It’s hard to imagine the Cavs having an interest in buying out Smith. His contract has value beyond the trade deadline as it only carries $3.2 million guaranteed out of the $15.7 million he is owed next season. For a team that is looking to clear up space between the draft and free agency, Smith could be a valuable piece of that puzzle.
Plus with Smith staying home, it’s not like a dragged out trade/buyout process can have a negative impact on the locker room. As that would be one of the factors that could force a buyout if he was still present every day.
One thing that may stand in the Cavs way is the reality that about half the league is projected to have cap space this summer. While that doesn’t necessarily mean every team will have as much as they’d like to have, it could cause the market for Smith to be slow.
Ultimately it only takes one team to bite on Smith in order to make a trade possible. Given the current situation, the Cavs are probably better off hanging on to Smith, trying to find a trade, and taking advantage of his non-guaranteed deal themselves if nothing were to come along.