J.R. Smith remains in limbo — he’s not playing for the Cavaliers, and he’s not getting bought out in the coming days either. His contract remains the thing Cavaliers management is keeping in its back pocket to make sure they stay below the luxury tax threshold this season and next.
The plan is for the Cavaliers to trade Smith around the draft, and if not waive him then, reports Joe Varden of The Athletic. Just remember, it’s all about the tax line, which the Cavaliers are just barely below right now.
The Cavs’ projected salary for next season includes JR Smith’s $15.8 million. If he’s waived or traded by June 30, he only costs $3.9 million, which would drop Cleveland below the tax line straightaway…
Now, you might counter that the Cavs could buy out JR Smith and get him to leave some money on the table to create some room to operate. But that’s not going to happen because the Cavs have every intention of trying to trade him in June. If they need another body over the last 22 games, there’s always the two-way guys.
In the short term, Cleveland is up against the tax line so they have no roster flexibility, but it’s not like their trying to stack the roster for a playoff run. The Cavs will play the season out with the guys they have, then start making their moves this summer to roll back the roster cost some and start building for the future.
One way or another, Smith will be part of those moves. Come June. Not before.