Report: Celtics have interest in J.R. Smith (but they will not sign him)
J.R. Smith and the Cavaliers remain at least $4 million a year apart (and there may be disagreement about the length of the deal as well). The team reportedly offered four years, $42 million, and Smith wants $15 million a year to start. While LeBron James tries to prod the Cavaliers to sign his friend (the two also share an agent), Smith has said he’s not looking around at other teams.
Still, Smith is a free agent. He could sign anywhere, and some teams have cap space still.
Boston is not one of those teams — they are already over the cap and have to cut one guaranteed salary before the season (they have 16). That logic has not stopped reports Boston has interest in Smith, the reports will not die, the latest coming from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
I can’t be clear enough here:
This. Will. Not. Happen.
I don’t know his sources (and Isola is well connected), but this feels like something someone from the Smith camp would leak to try and pressure the Cavs. Isola tries to lay out how the deal can come together but the numbers in the article are off, the cap space the Celtics had late in the summer went away with some recent signings. Boston has no glut of money to spend. Right now, the Celtics can offer only the veteran minimum, a little over $1 million a year; or the Tom exception for a couple million. That’s not going to get it done. Plus, the Celtics then would have to eat two fully guaranteed contracts just to make room (again, they already have to eat one just to get down to the league max). In theory there could be a sign-and-trade, but it makes zero sense for neither team. The Cavs want Smith (just at their price), and why would the Celtics trade away parts of their young core to bring in an older player who doesn’t make them a contender?
Smith and the Cavaliers are in a staring contest, and at some point someone will blink. But nobody is making a sideways glance at Boston.