Report: J.R. Smith looking for $15 million annually

By Vincent Frank
Courtesy of Tim Fuller, USA Today Sports

J.R. Smith is one of the top free agents remaining on the market. The veteran helped his Cleveland Cavaliers win the title this past season and is now reportedly looking to cash in big time.

Paying someone who averaged just over 12 points per game last season $15 million per year seems to be a bit ridiculous. That’s until we realize just how absurd the market has been for free agents around the NBA this summer.

It’s also important to note that Smith’s improved two-way game helped Cleveland come back against the Golden State Warriors in last month’s NBA Finals.

In reality, he’s a huge part of what LeBron James and Co. have built in Cleveland. If it means overpaying in order to keep the team’s core intact, that might be the price the defending champs have to pay.

Despite the large sums of cash being thrown around to mediocre players during the summer, multiple NBA teams have the cap room to absorb a deal that would pay Smith $15 million annually.

As of right now, the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets could offer Smith $15-plus million for the 2016-17 season. Meanwhile, the likes of the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks could do the same with the moving around of parts.

As it is, there’s really no expectation that Smith will move on from the Cavaliers. They’d have to go over the luxury tax to retain both him and James, the latter of whom also remains a free agent. That’s the price you pay for success in today’s NBA.

In addition to averaging 12.4 points per game last season, Smith shot a splendid 40 percent from three-point range. His importance to the Cavaliers cannot be overstated.