The NBA free agency period has already passed but J.R. Smith still doesn't have a team. Although the Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to sign him, contract disputes with the team could open a door for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Smith became a free agent this season after helping the Cavs win the 2016 NBA championships. But, despite his contributions to the team, the Cavs still haven't signed him.
Initially, the delay in his contract was attributed to the negotiations for other key members of the Cleveland franchise such as LeBron James and coach Tyronn Lue. However, months after these two were signed, Smith still hasn't finalized a contract with the Cavs.
One major factor that's reportedly keeping Smith from signing with the Cavs is his salary demand. During the offseason, it was reported that the shooting guard was asking for $15 million per year from the team, Inquisitr reported.
After assessing their finances, the Cavs reportedly tried to accommodate Smith's request by offering him $10 million per season. Since this is still very far from his asking price, Smith refused the Cavs' contract.
This puts Cleveland at a very tight spot if it is still keen on keeping Smith on the roster. Apparently, the team could not go any higher on their offer because aside from the luxury taxes, the Cavs are already restricted by their salary cap limits.
If money is the only thing keeping Smith away from the team, then this could mean that other NBA organizations can swoop in to sign in. One of those is the Timberwolves. As noted by Chat Sports, the Minnesota team has enough cap space to give Smith what he wants. In fact, the team currently has $25.5 million in its pocket, which means they have enough resources to easily snatch Smith away from Cleveland.
Of course, getting Smith will create a huge advantage for the Timberwolves because aside from his veteran status in the league, he has extensive experience in winning an NBA championship ring. Putting him in the lineup will give the Minnesota franchise a reliable player who could lead the team's younger athletes.