LeBron James has decided to weigh in on the J.R. Smith standoff. This is not exactly unexpected given the relationship between the two and the fact they now share an agent.
And based on the events that have occurred since James returned to Cleveland, such a stance has generally resulted in the superstar’s view being the franchise’s eventual course of action. Friday, LeBron stumped for a new contract for Smith, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
“Negotiations are always two-sides, but J.R. did his part,” James said. “He showed up every day, worked his ass off every day. Became a two-way player, a model citizen in Cleveland and he’s a fan favorite, obviously we all know that. All of the sudden now he’s a season-ticket holder at the Indians games.
“We just miss him. We miss having him around. He’s a big piece of our team and they just need to get it done.”
Cleveland acquired Smith with LeBron’s blessing in January of 2015, when the Cavs’ leader certainly signed off on a string of moves that brought Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov to Cleveland and shipped Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City. James did not weigh in this strongly on the Cavaliers bringing back Tristan Thompson — a fellow Klutch Sports client as well — last year, but that obviously got done as well. James also wished Matthew Dellavedova well on Twitter after he signed a restricted free agent deal with the Bucks, and the Cavs did not make a subsequent effort to match.
“I hate coming into another season – two years in a row – with one of my big guns not here,” James said. “So, for a leader of a team and for me personally, I just hate to deal with this s— again. It’s just too big of a piece to our team to have to deal with in another training camp.”
David Griffin said Monday the team’s made a competitive offer for Smith, who made just $5 million last season after opting out of a deal that would have paid him more. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports the team has offered over $42 million in guaranteed money, with three fully guaranteed years and a partially guaranteed fourth year.
The 31-year-old streaky shooter is not believed to be negotiating with other teams, and few possess the cap space to bring him in for $10M-plus. Cleveland can’t replace Smith, whose 367 3-pointers since moving to Cleveland trail only Stephen Curry , since its payroll is already at $117M.
This latest proclamation should strengthen the mercurial guard’s resolve.