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Report: 3 Teams That Could be Interested in Acquiring J.R. Smith This Summer

Tim Hardaway Jr. Dallas Mavericks

The Cleveland Cavaliers have one month to trade their exiled veteran guard, J.R. Smith, before his 2019-20 contract becomes fully guaranteed at $15.68 million.

While no team has emerged yet as a potential trade partner, one report indicates that three teams could ultimately be where Smith ends up being sent.

Chris Crouse of points to either the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks or Brooklyn Nets as the ultimate destination for Smith, who played in just 11 games with the Cavaliers last season. He was put in limbo by the team in late November after he criticized it for what he believed was its willingness to tank the entire season for a high draft pick.

Smith is a valuable trade chip since any team that acquires him before July 1 can release him and only have to guarantee $3.87 million of next year’s salary.

Crouse explained the further logic behind trading for a 15-year veteran who turns 34 in September and has declined offensively:

“Another team that lacks cap flexibility could potentially use his contract to quickly carve out upwards of $18MM in extra cap space, as our own Luke Adams detailed earlier in the season. To maximize those savings, a team would have to use the stretch provision on Smith, a move that would bring his cap hit to approximately $1.29MM.”

The Trail Blazers are likely to be paying a luxury tax, since they have to re-sign pending free agents Enes Kanter and former Cavalier Rodney Hood. By trading one of their high-priced veterans in a deal for Smith, they might be able to avoid that prospect or at least reduce the cost after they release Smith.

In the case of the Mavericks, they would be inclined to trade away two of their high-priced talents, since they’re seeking to make a move during the free agency period.

Cruise offered this potential scenario for a deal with Dallas:

“Dallas could attempt to entice Cleveland with a prospect like Justin Jackson or offer up the No. 37 overall pick in this year’s draft in order to acquire Smith. It’s not clear if anything short of a first-round pick will be enough to pry Smith away from the Cavs.”

The Nets are also geared to try to sign a major free agent or two, if possible, and have something the Cavs value. To make that happen, Cruise writes that the Nets might trade for Smith in exchange for getting rid of the steep ($18.5 million) contract of Allen Crabbe and sending one of their three high picks to the Cavs.

The only guarantee in this tale is that Smith will not be returning to play for the Cavaliers. Earlier this month, the very real possibility that he’s played his last NBA game was noted, since he likely won’t garner much interest from other teams, unless he’s willing to sign for a veteran’s minimum salary.

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