New rumors suggest that there's a good chance that the Cleveland Cavaliers might lose J.R. Smith in free agency. Apparently, the only way the 2016 NBA champions will be able to retain their tatted up breakout star is by offering him max contract.
Smith is coming from a very good year after helping the Cavs win their first championship title in over 50 years. Of course, from the perspective of the team, keeping this strong roster intact is a priority.
However, due to Cleveland's current financial status, it seems they might not have enough cap space to retain all of its key players. As detailed by Ohio.com, the Cavs need to pay $54 million in luxury taxes due to the $160 million they spent last year to build the current championship roster.
But aside from this, the Cavs are planning on spending its over $90 million cap space on only a handful of its key members such as Tristan Thompson, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. This breakdown doesn't leave enough space for free agent Smith, who is probably expecting a salary raise due to his contribution in the team's championship.
However, a raise for Smith may not happen because if the Cavs give him a maximum contract, then Cleveland will most likely go over the $113.3 million tax limit imposed by the league.
In other words, money could be the main reason behind Smith leaving Cleveland. If he will not be offered a max contract, then he will most likely join another team that's willing to give him a better deal. After all, since the Cavs won the championship, Smith knows that he's value as a professional player has increased.
But aside from his salary, another factor that could influence Smith's decision to leave the team is his role. Specifically, it is expected that if Smith does re-sign with the Cavs, he will have lesser playing time in the upcoming season. That's because Iman Shumpert, who has been on-and-off in games last season due to injuries, is expected to make a full comeback. With him on the active roster, the Cavs will most likely turn to the more reliable shooting guard and leave Smith sitting out most parts of the game.