J.R. Smith hasn’t suited up for the Cleveland Cavaliers since late November, but if the Cavs want to fully part ways with the veteran guard, they may have to be willing to take on former All-Star Carmelo Anthony’s contract according to a report by Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net.
“I’m fine if you don’t want Carmelo under any circumstance. But I’m telling you, the Rockets are the only team that’s slightly interested in Smith,” he wrote. “They would do the trade if you took back Carmelo as part of the package. At the very least, they would think long and hard about it. Knowing that, I think it’s a call the Cavs have to make. They MUST find a way to trade J.R. He isn’t taking a buyout. Forget it. Not happening.”
Smith and the Cavs parted ways back in November, but before that he had been averaging 6.7 points in 24.9 minutes per game. While his skillset does not fit with the Cavs and their current rebuild, his ability to shoot from three and get hot off the bench could work perfectly for a Rockets team that is looking to return to the Western Conference Finals for a second straight season.
As for Anthony, it’s unclear what role he would play on the Cavs, or if they would just get his contract on the books and then release the veteran forward. Amico explained why trading Smith’s contract for Anthony’s could be a win-win for Cleveland.
“A lot of Cavs fans are bashing Anthony, and I get it,” Amico wrote. “But I know fans, and I know you would all hop on the Carmelo bandwagon if he uttered just one phrase: ‘I want to play for the Cavs.’ He’d be huge. Deny it now, but I know you, I love you, and I understand why fan is actually short for ‘fanatic.’
“Besides that, the Cavs could just waive Anthony. And it wouldn’t even call for a league-wide investigation.”
Finally, he broke down why getting Smith’s contract off the books should be the Cavs’ primary concern as they approach the trade deadline.
“Some of you don’t appreciate how much Smith’s contract is hindering the Cavs. Not just this season, but next,” he wrote. “It’s true that only $3.4 million of Smith’s contract is guaranteed next year. But that $3.4 million will still count against the cap. It could keep the Cavs from getting a really nice young player in 2019-20.”
The trade deadline is just under a month away. If the Cavs want to get rid of Smith this season, they’ll have to do it soon. Whether or not that means Anthony donning the Wine and Gold remains to be seen.