NBA Free Agent J.R. Smith ‘Would Love To Be A Starter’ Next Season
After being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers by the New York Knicks before the NBA trade deadline last February, sixth man J.R. Smith had an opportunity to turn over a new leaf with a legitimate title contender. Smith played well during his short time with the Cavaliers, but may be headed elsewhere this summer after choosing to opt out of the final year of his deal.
Unfortunately for Smith, the veteran hasn’t received the kind of interest on the open market he anticipated and therefore remains without a new team or new contract with Cleveland. It seems as though the Cavaliers are in no hurry to re-sign Smith and ultimately may never do so.
Recently, Smith talked about the free agency process thus far and what he’d like if he signed with a team other than Cleveland, via Grant Wieman of Pacific Daily News:
“I just want to be somewhere I can make a difference,” Smith said. “I don’t want to be somewhere I can’t have an affect on the team.”
Smith continued to emphasize his desire to be a starter moving forward, but also knows that’s not a possibility with the Cavaliers, via Wieman:
“I would love to be a starter, but it depends on the situation and what team I’m on,” Smith said. “Cleveland is in a situation where they don’t really need me to start. I can come off the bench and bring the energy and stuff like that.”
As for Cleveland, the team’s front office is still trying to pickup the pieces after getting beat by the Golden State Warriors in six games during the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers brass has done an excellent job keeping the same team intact by re-signing LeBron James, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, James Jones and Matthew Dellavedova.
Cleveland also appears to be on the verge of a contract extension with Tristan Thompason. There was talk of a five-year deal worth $80 million being agreed to, but that has yet to come to fruition.
Along with bringing back the majority of players from last year’s team, the Cavaliers were also able to sign free agents Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson adding more depth to an already deep team.
Currently, the Cavaliers are favored to win the 2016 NBA Finals, according to Sportsbook.ag. Cleveland is sporting 5/2 odds ahead of the San Antonio Spurs (18/5) and Golden State Warriors (13/2).