JR Smith Rumors: Bucks Interested in Cavaliers Veteran If Bought Out

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2019

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 19:  JR Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers tries to drive around Stanley Johnson #7 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on November 19, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks reportedly are interested in veteran guard JR Smith, but a buyout from the Cleveland Cavaliers remains a hurdle.

According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the Bucks "have interest in Smith, sources said, though Smith and the Cavs are not close on a buyout. There is very little incentive for Cleveland to buy him out, and at this stage in his life, NBA money is important to Smith."

Per Spotrac, Smith is guaranteed $3.8 million next season, with his full $15.6 million contract becoming guaranteed if he's still on the roster after June 30.  

Vardon broke down Cleveland's options:

"...There is great reason to hold on to him for the rest of the season, and then try to trade him before July 1. If they fail, then they either waive him by June 30, paying him the $3.9 million to walk, they take on his full contract with the hope of being able to trade it by the February deadline next season, or they keep him past July 1 in an effort to trade him by a late August deadline to 'waive and stretch' his contract."

Minus the "waive and stretch" route—which would essentially pay out Smith's remaining salary over three years, rather than one, and allow the Cavs to cut him this offseason—those options would potentially be cheaper than agreeing to a buyout settlement, with Vardon reporting that Smith would be willing to give up around $1 million of the remaining money Cleveland owes him.

The 33-year-old has essentially been in an agreed-upon exile from the tanking Cavaliers since mid-November. He appeared in just 11 games (four starts) for the Cavs this season, averaging 6.7 points per game. 

Smith is nothing more than a nice depth player at this point, but he is still capable of offering minutes to a contender. The streaky shooter hit on 37.5 percent of his threes last season, though this year he was struggling from deep (30.8 percent) in his limited appearances. 

In Milwaukee he could offer nice depth on the wing, coming off the bench behind players like Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon. He would fight for time with players like Tony Snell and Sterling Brown, but his playoff experience would be a nice bonus for a first-place Bucks team that hasn't gotten past the first round of the playoffs since the 2000-01 season. 

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