J.R. Smith opted out of a $6.4 million contract for next season, only to go nearly two months without getting a new deal. It was assumed he’d wind up back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Smith announced Thursday night on Instagram that he’s indeed returning to Cleveland:
Happy to say that I am returning to the Cavs! It’s been a long ride this summer but I can say for sure, well worth the wait. When I opted out of my contract, I wanted to understand the landscape of the NBA and where I fit best. The Cavaliers had things they needed to do in order to piece together a championship caliber roster. I ended up deciding that instead of potentially securing a larger deal elsewhere, I wanted to rejoin an incredible organization in pursuit of the ultimate goal, an NBA championship. Thank you to the Cavaliers for making this happen. Can’t wait to get started! #TheLand
The contract is for two years and is worth less annually than the player option he declined, but it’s not significantly less annually and he has a player option for 2016-17, which will allow him to opt out and possibly take advantage of the salary cap boom next summer:
J.R. Smith, Cavs agree to two-year deal, league source tells @Clevelanddotcom. Will earn $5 million next season and player option on second.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 21, 2015
Smith was traded to the Cavaliers in the middle of last season after really struggling to start the year with the New York Knicks. The enigmatic shooting guard turned things around in Cleveland, averaging 12.7 points and shooting 39 percent from three in 46 regular-season games.
Smith’s postseason got off to a rough start when he shot poorly against the Boston Celtics and then got suspended for smacking Jae Crowder in the face, but the 29-year-old returned and played a key role in the next two rounds, picking up the scoring slack with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving hurting.
Smith bombed out in the NBA Finals, but he’ll be an important part of the Cavaliers next season. You can never have enough shooting around LeBron James, and Smith is a very good catch-and-shoot player.