3 possible trade destinations for JR Smith
Just hours after criticising the Cavaliers for tanking this season, JR Smith has been told that he can leave the franchise. Both parties mutually agreed to the decision on Tuesday, and this decision came weeks after the 33-year-old publicly stated his desire to be traded.
Smith won the NBA championship with Cleveland in 2016, however, the team is now going towards a total rebuild, and it has meant that Smith has been overlooked for younger players.
ESPN reports that a buyout arrangement is not being discussed and Smith will workout alone until a trade is agreed. His options may be limited due to his large $14.7 million-per-year contract, however, here are the three teams that could be interested in trading for the 2013 sixth man of the year.
#3 Washington Wizards
The Wizards were hit with their own trade rumours over the past week, as the team is reportedly looking to trade either Bradley Beal or John Wall, their two main players. Despite his age and temperament, Smith is still a talented player on the court and he could help the Wizards to stay competitive while they attempt to somewhat rebuild the team.
Only $3,870,000 of Smiths contract is guaranteed next season and he could represent a short-term fix. A potential trade may, however, require a third team, as the Wizards would not be interested in a straight swap.
#2 Chicago Bulls
These two franchises could simply use the trade as an opportunity to get rid of two unhappy players.
The Bulls are winding down Robin Lopez's expiring contract and due to this, the centre has been removed from the team's rotation. The 30-year-old has expressed his frustration at this decision, and the Bulls would be keen to explore a potential trade.
Smith could be a good pick up for Chicago, whereas the Cavaliers would free up cap space by releasing Lopez in the summer. This could be a winning trade for both teams, although the players themselves may be reluctant.
#1 Los Angeles Lakers
Much was made of the falling out between LeBron and JR at the end of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA finals. Smith's late blunder resulted in the Cavaliers losing the series opener, and LeBron quickly recognised that the team would not recover from the defeat. Despite this, the pair flourished during their time together in Cleveland, and James looked like a big fan of Smith.
JR would love to land on a title challenger for the final years of his career, and he would jump at the chance to play with James for the second time. However, the logistics of a potential deal are going to be an obstacle, as the Lakers have deliberately cleared cap space over the last 18 months.
Magic Johnson will be extremely reluctant to take on Smith's sizable salary, so the 33-year-olds move to LA could depend on the Cavaliers agreeing to buy out the remainder of his contract, which right now seems unlikely.