A trade isn’t possible until draft night, but that hasn’t stopped teams from calling and inquiring on J.R. Smith.
For those that don’t know, Smith currently is on a grandfathered contract from the last collective bargaining agreement. Meaning that while only $3.8 million is guaranteed for next season on his deal, in a trade he counts for the full $15.68 million for the purpose of salary matching. While new contracts only count for the guaranteed value when matching salaries in a deal.
This allows the Cavs to assist a team in clearing up guaranteed salary in exchange for future assets. Next year’s core likely being Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr, and whatever selections they make on draft night. But with the non-guaranteed contract of Smith, and an assortment of expiring deals, the Cavs are in position to take on players with term on their deal to help stockpile future assets.
As far as Smith goes, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com has reported that teams are calling the Cavs about the shooting guard. Smith’s contract is the only one of it’s kind left in the NBA, leaving the team in a great position to add more meaningful pieces.
It seems as though the more important question regarding the Smith contract is how the team uses it, not whether or not they trade it. It seems likely that a deal will occur, given the movement in general that is being anticipated for this summer. But whether or not the Cavs use the contract to trade up in the draft with either of their picks, to acquire a future pick, or if they pair it with other expiring deals will be fascinating to watch.
With the Cavs looking to add more future salary, I think it’s also interesting to see what type of players they take on. This season the team took on less attractive contracts that expire in 2020, meaning that they didn’t have to wait long for the negative part of the equation to become a positive. The Cavs may try to repeat that process next season, or look to add someone like a Gordon Hayward that may come with some upside should he rebound from his injury after a full summer. Especially if that risk is paired with a worthwhile asset.