When the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to acquire the draft pick that led to Kevin Porter, Jr’s selection without taking on long term salary, it appeared that J.R. Smith’s partially guaranteed deal might just expire. Why take on money that would put you in the luxury tax if you got your original target anyway?
Well, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, and then Brian Windhorst of ESPN with a bit more detail, a trade may still come to fruition. Smith is slated to make about $15.7 million next season, but only $3.9 million of it is guaranteed. The original date that the deal was slated to become guaranteed was Sunday, June 30th. It’s now August 1st, with Smith now guaranteed at least $4.4 million. This limits Smith’s flexibility somewhat, but he’s likely looking at a veteran minimum deal (if anything), and teams will be able to offer that a month from now.
The benefit for the Cavs is that they can now shop the contract around the league to teams that may need to carve out cap space as free agency progresses. The Cavs are in asset accumulation mode, but they’ll also still want to stay out of the luxury tax. Perhaps they can take on salary in a Smith deal, but then move a player like Tristan Thompson, Jordan Clarkson, or a number of players they have with deals that expire after this upcoming season.
We really have no idea what a possible deal will look like, but it’s impressive that they are still looking for ways to be creative with the deal. An extra $500,000 doesn’t hurt Smith’s bottom line, and the odds are he ends up with the Lakers or out of the league, neither of which are really impacted here.