Cleveland Cavaliers GM LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has been pretty quiet regarding shooting guard J.R Smith’s contract impasse with the team, but as training camps open, he’s now stepped in and made his voice heard on what he’d like the team to do to bring Smith back to Cleveland:
“Negotiations are always two sides, but J.R. did his part. 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. … He’s a big piece of our team and they just need to get it done.”
Of course, Smith’s agent is Rich Paul, who also reps James and fellow Cavs forward Tristan Thompson, who held out through training camp last year after he had a contract impasse with the team. The difference between Thompson and Smith of course is that Thompson was a RFA, and Smith is an UFA, though Smith hasn’t indicated he wants to go play anywhere else.
LeBron says that he hates to come into another season without one of his “big guns” in camp:
“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. Hopefully things get resolved fast, because you know how big and important he is to our team.”
James likened the negotiations between the Cavs and J.R Smith to buying a house, which is an interesting metaphor:
“You can go find a house, you do all the negotiations and all that, but you never got the house until it’s closed and you got the keys. Last minute someone can step in. Escrow could fall through or something. Then it ain’t your house no more. So, J.R. is a free agent. He’s not ours. He’s still my brother right now. And I feel like when I play 2K17 he’s still on the Cavs, so he’s on my roster there, but it wouldn’t be good if he was not here. It wouldn’t be good for any side.”
That makes more sense when you hear it, but it’s still a bit of a strange path to take. At any rate, James turning the public pressure on the Cavs front office to get a deal done with J.R Smith might be just what the negotiations need to proceed.