The Cleveland Cavaliers fell in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, and now the team might lose its three-point specialist.
Following the 105-97 defeat to the now-champion Golden State Warriors, Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith said he planned to opt out of the final year of his contract, per ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
JR Smith told me he'll probably opt out of the final year, $6.4 million of his contract
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 17, 2015
However, just 15 minutes later, Smith appeared to have changed his tune and said he’d return for another season, per Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan.
JR Smith asked will he be back next year with #Cavs "Absolutely"
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) June 17, 2015
Cleveland acquired Smith as part of a three-team trade that sent disgruntled swingman Dion Waiters to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Smith tallied 12.7 points per outing and a career-best 113 offensive rating during the regular season.
Smith was a key part of the Cavaliers’ run through the Eastern Conference playoffs, burying 28-of-61 three-pointers (45.9 percent) throughout the series against the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks. His 28-point effort in Game 1 of the conference finals sparked Cleveland’s eventual sweep of Atlanta.
The 29-year-old struggled in the NBA Finals, though, connecting on just 15 of his 51 trifectas opposite a pesky Golden State defense. According to Basketball-Reference.com, he became the third player in Final history to post a three-point performance of 0-of-8 or worse.
Smith would have a handful of suitors if he indeed opts out, but it’s difficult to see him receiving a raise.
The shooting guard is just that—a shooter. Smith is a liability on the defensive end, and when he battles through an offensive slump, he’s not particularly valuable other than providing a threat to launch threes at any time.
Smith will find somewhere to play in the NBA next season, and he could choose to play for $6.4 million and a championship in Cleveland. Really, it all depends on if Smith is willing to be a role player, or if he wants one final chance to shoot like he’s a superstar.
Photo: USA Today Sports