J.R. Smith has had an absolutely ridiculous career timeline. From starting his career as an uber-athlete with the New Orleans Hornets to becoming an elite scorer off the bench with the Denver Nuggets to turning into the best sixth man in the league with the Knicks and finally winning an NBA championship in Cleveland, Smith has not had a traditional career arc.
Through all of his solid play, he is only remembered for two things by the fans: his love for Hennessy, and losing track of the score in Game 1 of the NBA Finals last season, essentially killing the Cavaliers’ chances of dethroning the Warriors. While his quirky attitude may out shadow his play at times, J.R. Smith is still capable of playing valuable minutes on a contender… Or is he?
The main problem with J.R. Smith isn’t even something he can control, at least anymore. On October 16, 2016, J.R. Smith signed a 4 year, 57 million dollar contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers after playing a prominent role in the defeat of the 73–9 Golden State Warriors. At the moment, this was a no-brainer in Cleveland; he was perhaps the most important player not named Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, or Kevin Love on the entire roster.
Now, years later, Lebron James is wearing purple and gold, Kyrie is wearing Green, and Kevin Love can barely make a positive impact. J.R. Smith has two more years left of his big money contract and would like to find a way out of Cleveland who started the season with six straight losses.
While it’s safe to say that any contender deprived of shooting should be interested, Smith’s big contract makes the deal more interesting than it should be.
For example, the Oklahoma City Thunder rank dead last in three-point percentage so far this season. J.R. Smith could provide an immediate fix to a huge problem for the Thunder, BUT at what cost? Unless they’d be willing to move starting wing (when he gets back from injury) and former all-defensive team member, Andre Roberson, the Thunder would have to trade a stockpile of roleplayers including Patrick Patterson, Terrance Ferguson, Alex Abrines, Jerami Grant, or Timothe Luwawu. While none of the listed players have special talent, the Thunder may struggle to find five legitimate NBA players to play on the court at the same time if they got unlucky with injuries.
If the Thunder do decide to make a risky move, it could look something like this.
J.R. Smith to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Cavaliers Receive: Alex Abrines, Patrick Patterson, Terrance Ferguson, 2020 Second Round Pick
Thunder Receive: J.R. Smith