JR Smith, Cavaliers Working on Trade After 'Amicable' Breakup

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  JR Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers high fives Head Coach Larry Drew of the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 13, 2018 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith will no longer be actively with the team as the two sides explore his market.

The team announced the news in a statement on Tuesday:

"The Cleveland Cavaliers announced today that JR Smith will no longer be with team as the organization works with JR and his representation regarding his future. The organization wishes JR and his family well and appreciates and thanks him for his contributions in the community, to the team and his role in the 2016 NBA Championship."

The Athletic's Joe Vardon noted this breakup is "amicable" and that a buyout is not being discussed.

That last part should not come as much of a surprise, as the veteran guard recently made it clear that he would not be receptive to a buyout.

"I don't want my legacy to be remembered like that in Cleveland," Smith recently told The Athletic's Jason Lloyd. "I don't think that's fair to the people I see every single day walking around the arena. I don't think that's fair to the trainers or equipment guys. ... I just look at it differently than being traded. I don't like the statement of getting bought out."

He also said he doesn't "think the goal is to win" right now in Cleveland. And if that's the case, he does not want to be a part of a rebuild.

"Not if the goal isn't to compete, to win," Smith told Lloyd.

The 33-year-old previously expressed his desire for a trade, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski detailed on The Jump:

That situation resulted in an offer of an excused leave of absence, but Smith opted to remain with his teammates.

"I can't do that to these fans; I can't do it to the city," Smith said earlier this month, per the Beacon Journal's Marla Ridenour. "The way the city embraced me, the fans embraced me, the relationship I have with them, I can't do that to them. It's not about me. It's not about who wants me here and who doesn't want me here. For me, it's all about the fans."

With no trade thus far, the approach has changed.

Smith has grown accustomed to playing winning basketball. Since coming over in a midseason trade in 2015, he has appeared in four consecutive NBA Finals, helping the Cavs win their first title in 2016. That, of course, came while four-time NBA MVP LeBron James was in suiting up for his home-state team. 

Now that James is a Los Angeles Laker, Cleveland (2-13) owns the worst record in the NBA and has been looking to give playing time to younger players over aging veterans. That meant Smith and others would see fewer minutes, and former head coach Tyronn Lue lost his job just six games into the 2018-19 season.

In 11 games, Smith is averaging 6.7 points and 1.9 assists in 20.2 minutes per contest.

Smith is under contract for $14.72 million this season and has a $15.68 million salary (only $3.87 million is guaranteed) for 2019-20, per Spotrac.

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