15 Oct Cavs Are All In: J.R. Smith Signs 4-Year Deal Worth $57M
The wait is over. J.R. Smith is back and the Cleveland Cavaliers are ‘All-In’ for their title defense season.
It took nearly the entire NBA break to get J.R. Smith back to the Cleveland Cavaliers bench. But for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans, it was worth the wait. After their contractual stalemate, the Cleveland Cavaliers and starting two guard J.R. Smith have come to terms on a four-year deal worth $57M. Smith became a free agent after not picking up his $5.3M player option for the upcoming season.
Worth The Wait
J.R. Smith and the Cavs have come to terms on a four-year $57 million deal, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) October 15, 2016
According to a report from ESPN, Smith’s new deal is guaranteed for $45M for three years, regardless of what happens in year four when Smith would be then 34 years old. The mercurial guard was reportedly asking for $15M per annum but the Cavs were only offering him $10M per year. The guarantee portion perhaps sealed the deal for Smith as it makes the first three years in line with his ‘demand’. The final year isn’t guaranteed until the Cavs don’t waive him shortly after the 2018-19 NBA season.
By making $45M in the next three seasons, Smith doubles his career earnings in one thirds of the time he earned the first half of it. J.R. Smith made an estimated $45.5M during his first twelve seasons in the NBA.
Big Contract, Bigger Announcement
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) October 15, 2016
J.R. Smith took his act to the ‘Uninterrupted’ to make the announcement:
“We are extremely happy and proud to say that we have agreed to terms to come back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, aka the champs, aka my brothers. It’s been a long road. I appreciate everybody sticking out through this rough patch of time. I know this holdout and everything else has been long and tedious for everybody, but it’s extremely huge for us. We’re happy to be a part of the Cleveland family and just want to take it one day at a time.”
Although Smith dragged the Cavs deep in the negotiations, there was never a doubt that he preferred to stay in Cleveland. Despite remaining unsigned, he was always seen with his teammates during the offseason. And having played the last two seasons in Cleveland, fitting in won’t be an issue even if he’s already missed three weeks of training camp. The only question now is when will Smith be physically ready to play.
Smith was thrilled when he spoke of his return to the Cavs. He was more excited when he announced a bigger surprise:
“Oh yeah, and one more surprise. We’re having another baby.”
Apparently, Smith wasn’t just working on getting his first NBA title last season, he was also busy trying to expand his family. With Smith back the Cavaliers’ family is complete. The final piece is here. And Cleveland is once again ‘All-In’.
The Band is Back Together
Tristan Thompson said the band is officially back. For the Cavs it’s more than just having their starting shooting guard back. Superstar LeBron James was one of those who campaigned heavily for Smith’s return. James urged the Cavs to bring Smith back:
“Negotiations are always two-sides, but J.R. did his part. J.R. did his part. He showed up every day. Worked his ass off every day. Became a two-way player, a model citizen in Cleveland and he’s a fan favorite, obviously we all know that……We just miss him. We miss having him around. He’s a big piece of our team and they just need to get it done.”
The rest of the Cavs wanted him back too and for good reason.
The former Sixth Man of The Year winner averaged 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game in 77 regular season games. But Smith’s value goes beyond the regular stats. At 2.6 three pointers made per game, Smith led the Cavs in three point FGs per game. Smith upped that average to 3.1 trifectas made per game during the playoffs and thus way key in spreading the floor and opening the lanes for LeBron James to operate inside the paint. During the 2015-16 season, King James’ average FG distance was 10.1 ft, 46% of his FG attempts were from 0-2 feet out and he had a total of 43 dunks. All stats were career best for LeBron James, not to mention that his 57.9% 2FG was the second best of his career.
But if you think Smith is just a floor spacer, think again. His playoff defensive rating of 108 was the best among the Cavs’ who started at least one playoff game. His offensive rating of 125 ranked third behind Channing Frye and Tristan Thompson and was better than LeBron, Kyrie and Love. In advanced stats like VORP, BPM and Win Shares, Smith was third in the team during the playoffs and only behind LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. So if you think the third wheel in the Big Three was Kevin Love, you were wrong. It was J.R. Smith all along, with due respect to Love.
Said Leron James two weeks ago:
“I hate coming into another season — two years in a row — with one of my big guns not here. So, for a leader of a team and for me personally, I just hate to deal with this s— again.”
Last season, James and the Cavs suffered the same holdout with Tristan Thompson. The season went well and the Cavs won their first ever NBA title. So does this mean another title for the once starved Cavs? Not a guarantee but getting J.R. Smith back is one step forward going that direction.
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