From the infamous shoe-untying scandal (lol) to the great father speech after last year's finals, J.R. (or Earl for some New York fans) has shown growth throughout the years and has finally found a home and family in Cleveland, or so he had hoped. It's October 11th, 1 p.m., and still, no contract has been John Hancocked by the Cavs GM nor J.R. Is this a problem with management not giving what a player deserves, or is this the player getting greedy when he already has it made?
J.R. Smith should feel some type of way towards the Cavs organization because last season was one of his best shooting years of his career; shooting 40% from deep (career average is around 37%) according to @ESPN. For J.R., this is golden considering how many threes he chucks up and actually defines the phrase “streaky shooter”. Along with the basketball side of things, J.R. has really handled his off-the-court-issues tremendously well (he let go of the Hennessey, for the most part) since playing alongside LeBron and has become one of LeBron’s close friends (of course, if that super team ever gets built, he is kicked to the curb).
If you can remember correctly, the last time LeBron-endorsed someone, they got paid big bucks for being a subpar player. But instead of getting that money, Tony Douglas and Jordan McRae have been signed. No disrespect to these players, but they aren't Earl. Tony Douglas is a capable shooter and a decent defender, but his size as a backup 2 can be a problem defensively, and he isn't known to be good with his decision making to be a 1 either. Jordan McRae is a crafty shot creator as shown in his summer showcase, but his inexperience is going to make it difficult to find playing time.
On the other side, the Cavs have offered J.R. a contract reportedly worth 10-11 million dollars with an unknown amount of years, and are still 4-5 million dollars apart according to several sources. Along with that, no one else has been contacting J.R. about leaving Cleveland, as most teams anticipated him staying regardless of money. As a business move, this probably isn't the best decision, considering he has already missed training camp and valuable time with teammates to defend their title.
The Cavs feel like they have offered what they could, also considering how much they're already booked in the player's salary department. There other starting 4 players are making 85 million of the 94 million salary cap, according to Basketballreference.com. For any business, saving money while winning is probably the greatest thing ever since Nutella. The Cavs are also looking at it this way: is a streaky shooter worth going over the cap even further than they already are?
That whole argument of player vs GM egos is in full effect in Cleveland. J.R. is a player that you can now say “I can win with him” and has proven that he isn't the headache he uses to be. But with that said, paying someone that sits behind the three and shoots some terrible shots is kind of a risk, too. It will be interesting to see who blinks first, as the season is in two weeks.