JR Smith Trade Rumors: Cavs Declined Offers of 1st-Round Pick During NBA Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2019

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith celebrates after making a 3-point shot against the Orlando Magic during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly turned down offers of a first-round pick during Thursday's NBA draft to trade veteran guard JR Smith, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

Per that report:

"While the odds of a deal have reduced, there's still time. The Cavs have until June 30, to be exact. And they remain the leader in the clubhouse to help a team create cap space heading into what is expected to be a frenzied summer.

"After June 30, Smith's contract becomes fully guaranteed at [$15.7] million. As of now, the Cavs are still trying to make a deal, according to sources familiar with those conversations, but it's complicated and it has to be the right move, as general manager Koby Altman laid out when recapping the NBA Draft late Thursday night."

Because Smith only has $3.9 million guaranteed on his deal, a team could offload a contract it doesn't want to the Cavaliers—giving up a more valuable asset like a future draft pick as a sweetener—and then cut Smith before Sunday to save around $11.8 million in cap space.

The issue for the Cavaliers is that trading Smith for another guaranteed contract would push them into the luxury tax, which Altman addressed with Fedor:

"We're definitely going to investigate what we can do there. There's a pain threshold of doing it, going into the tax, which we would have to do in terms of taking back money and the rest of the NBA knowing that we're in the tax and my job would be getting us out of the tax. Is there enough value there to do that, to put ourselves out there like that?

"I think that's something we are weighing these last few days. There's opportunity to do it. It's just how deep do we want to go into the tax to bring back an asset? Also, what does it take us out of into the year? We're still looking to add assets throughout the year so using JR now might take us out of that."

Smith, 33, appeared in only 11 games (four starts) for Cleveland last season, averaging 6.7 points in 20.2 minutes per contest. The Cavaliers and Smith agreed to a mutual parting in November, and Cleveland put him on the trade block, though no deal materialized.

The relationship between the veteran guard and the rebuilding Cavs appeared to fracture for good after he publicly accused the team of tanking and said he wasn't interested in being a part of a tanking team.

"I don't think the goal is to win," he told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. "The goal isn't to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can. I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan."

It appears the Cavaliers' goal now is to use Smith's contract to add a draft pick or picks, and it's likely the team is exploring ways to minimize the cap hit it'll incur if it does deal him. If he isn't traded, the Cavs would assuredly cut him before Sunday and take the cap savings.

So, one way or another, Smith's time in Cleveland is all but over.