Cavs should be interested in J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith is on the trading block according to Fanhouse who reported Sunday night that, “A source close to the situation said the Nuggets are looking to trade the erratic Smith, who is entering the final year of a contract that will pay the shooting guard $6.03 million.”  I don’t know if they are, or could possibly get him, but I think the Cavaliers should be interested.

There is no doubt that Smith would come in with a UHaul filled with baggage, but there’s also no denying the fact that he can play.  He’ll turn 25 next month, and has already played six seasons in the NBA since making the jump from St. Benedict’s Prep in 2004.  He could be the right mix of youth and experience for a Cavaliers team – that according to a comic sans press release I read – seems focused on making the playoffs next season.

The numbers are there and with Smith that’s not really the point.  Everybody knows he’s had his issues off the court, and there’s no need to recount them.  The fact is, he’s a risk in that respect.  But he is also a guy that has scored over 15 points per game in each of the last two seasons (through 156 regular season games) while averaging less than 28 minutes per night.  Not to mention the fact that he had to defer – as much as he can defer – to guys like Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.  If he’s a member of the 2010-11 Cavaliers, he would defer to no one.

Dime Magazine posted their top-5 destinations for J.R. Smith earlier Monday.  They listed the Cavaliers as fourth and asked the simple question that Cavs fans have been wondering for sometime now.  Who’s going to score next season?  I don’t know that answer as the roster currently stands.  Maybe Mo Williams can up his scoring average to 26 per.  Maybe Hickson can get you 23.  Or maybe you bring in a guy like Smith and all three get you between 15 and 20 with Jamison in double figures as well.  The latter – if you could acquire him – seems more realistic.

Which is the real question here, and I’m not trying to avoid it.  I’m not sure what the Cavaliers could use as compensation in return for Smith.  If you’re asking me, there are two guys on this roster that are untouchable: Hickson / Varejao (at least in this case).  Build up your revamped roster from there, anybody else is a moveable part.  But would they actually have to move a player of significance to get Smith?  I’m asking because I’m honestly not sure how the trade exception specifically works.  But I do know they have $5.1 million left on their mid-level exception, because I follow Brian Windhorst on twitter who said so last week after they signed Samardo Samuels.

So does that $5.1 million mle contract get the dollars to match the $6 million and change J.R. Smith is owed, and possibly entice the Nuggets to make a deal with the Cavaliers?  Probably not.  With his contract coming off the books next season I’d imagine Denver would be better off just letting him play this thing out and let him walk if that was the case.  Unless they wanted some type of draft pick package, or maybe someone off the roster not named Hickson or Varejao.  Who knows, but we’ll keep an eye on it because we have nothing else to do in late August at a Cavaliers blog. 

Well that as well as the fact that I can’t stop wondering how Smith might do playing as many minutes and getting up as many shots as his shoulder will allow him to on nightly basis.  High risk there, but possibly a high reward as well.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.