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Rumor: J.R. Smith wants $15 million per year from Cavaliers

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 23: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James #23 warm up on the court prior to the game against the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena on January 23, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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J.R. Smith will probably re-sign with the Cavaliers.


Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

That request doesn’t seem so outlandish to me, but then again, I didn’t expect Smith to have such a hard time in free agency last summer.

Simply, the capped-out Cavaliers have no mechanism to adequately replace Smith if he leaves. They can pay Smith big money, because they have his Bird Rights. They can’t just allocate it to an outside free agent.

Can they -- as a win-now team featuring LeBron James, who shares an agent with Smith -- really afford not to appease Smith?

This is starting to resemble the Tristan Thompson situation. Thompson, another Rich Paul client, didn’t sign until the fall, even as other teams used all their cap space. Finally, Thompson re-upped with Cleveland in the fall -- on a bigger deal than initially offered.

Can Smith stomach for that type of delay?

He has plenty of leverage and agent who has repeatedly successfully navigated this road, including with Eric Bledsoe two years ago. Paul always seems geared up for this fight. (By the way, LeBron still hasn’t re-signed.)

Smith started for a championship team, his outside shooting adding a valuable dimension. Really, in this situation, $15 million isn’t an awful price. He’s already 30, so the length of the contract could be a sticking point. But the dollars don’t seem so bad.

The Cavs might be reluctant to pay so much, especially if Smith isn’t getting comparable offers elsewhere. Just a few teams still have that much cap space.

Smith might be reluctant to take less, especially after opting out of a higher salary last year. This is probably his last chance at a monster payday.

So, here we are -- both sides incentivized not to budge now, but maybe even more likely to compromise as the season approaches.