Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith reportedly may exercise his player option, worth $6.4 million, and look for possibly his final long-term deal. The former New York Knicks player is banking on his steady play after being dealt to the Cavs and showing that he could be part of a contending team in a limited role.
JR Smith told me he'll probably opt out of the final year, $6.4 million of his contract
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 17, 2015
The 29-year-old Smith thrived in the new-found role as designated 3-point shooter in the spread offense of coach David Blatt. He was instrumental in the team's playoff run after injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Alas, his magical run ended in the NBA Finals when he hit just above 30 percent from the field and less than that beyond the 3-point line.
Nevertheless, Smith told sources that his preference is to stay with LeBron James and company, who are the favorites to return to the Finals next year if health issues do not linger. The 2013 Sixth Man of the Year hopes to reprise his role as the designated outside threat and continue the stability and maturity he claims to have stumbled upon in Ohio.
“Went from a bad situation into a great situation, and tried to make the best of what I had. Fortunately it was greatly appreciated,” said Smith, who was instrumental in a late fourth-quarter rally in Game 6 by hitting four 3-point baskets. “Came to the Finals, came up short, but at the end of the day it was the team that just had been put together. We will see how it ends up next year.”
The Cavaliers will be challenged to keep the roster intact with Smith, power forwards Love and Tristan Thompson and wingman Iman Shumpert all having the option of exploring free agency. Team management is adamant on keeping the roster intact for another crack at the title next year -- even at the prospect of paying the league's luxury tax.