J.R. Smith on if he regrets opting out of deal: ‘Uh, I mean, yes and no’
J.R. Smith appeared to find a new lease on life — not to mention an opportunity to resurrect his NBA career — when he landed with the Cleveland Cavaliers after being jettisoned by the New York Knicks in a midseason, three-team trade. That’s what made his decision to decline the player option on his contract in June, leaving $6.4 million on the table in the process, such a curious one.
Smith seemingly admitted it may not have been the wisest course of action to make the move while also acknowledging there is an inherent risk anytime a player opts out of a contract.
“That’s always part of the gamble of opting out,” he told the Northeast Ohio Media Group on Monday, while indicating that he and the Cavaliers plan to discuss a new contract this week.
Obviously, there is no guarantee that he will remain in Cleveland, meaning an opportunity to play on a team with championship aspirations may have been squandered in an effort to land a more lucrative contract.
When asked if he regretted his decision to opt out, Smith was decidedly noncommittal.
“Uh, I mean, yes and no,” he said. “No because I’ve gotten offers that I wanted, I mean numbers that I wanted, it’s just different situations. Right now it’s just a matter of seeing what the Cavs come back to me with. Right now they give me the best opportunity to win.”
Smith saw his floundering NBA career rejuvenated after joining LeBron James and company. While he played well for considerable stretches, he struggled in the Finals, when the undermanned Cavaliers needed him most.
In the end, Smith, reportedly seeking a contract somewhere in the annual range of $7 million to $9 million, is holding out hope something can be worked out with the Cavaliers.
“I definitely want to come back to Cleveland,” he said. “The coaches, the team, everything about the situation, it’s perfect for me.”
Maybe so, but apparently not perfect enough for Smith to play next season with the Cavs on a $6.4 million deal. Even worse, it now appears likely he will be taking a pay cut to remain in Cleveland, meaning his gamble arguably backfired big time.