NBA Trade Rumors and Free-Agent News: J.R. Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers Still at Impasses, LeBron James not Thrilled
With just weeks remaining before the official start of training camp, the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers and veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith remain locked in contractual stalemate.
Word is the growing impasse has now gained the attention of four-time league MVP LeBron James, rumored to have otherwise spent much of his summer doggedly plotting how his team might best defend their crown.
Not having Smith on board certainly won't help the situation. ESPN reports there is little chance he will be on hand next week when players and coaches gather for an informal week of workouts in Santa Barbara aimed at building camaraderie.
No end in Sight
The two sides have been at odds almost from the moment the Cavs rallied from a 3-1 Finals deficit to dethrone the Warriors and first hoist the crown.
In July, Smith formally opted out the deal that paid him $5 million last season. The veteran swingman was a vital cog in the team's improbable 2015-16 run, averaging 12 points on 40 percent shooting from the 3-point line. He was also among the Cavs' most versatile defenders.
As a reward, he is said to be seeking a multiyear deal somewhere in the neighborhood of the four-year, $70 million pact the Atlanta Hawks inked fellow, veteran shooting guard Kent Bazemore to earlier this summer.
Both sides are reported to want to broker a deal, but Smith is also rumored to be willing to miss at least some of training camp to gain greater leverage in negotiations.
Cleveland endured a similar situation with veteran forward Tristan Thompson last year, before signing him to a five-year, $82 million pact after he sat out all of training camp.
Earlier this summer, James netted a three-year, $100 million extension.
Bucks on Rise
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks have signed forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to a four-year deal reported to just under the $106 million maximum. Antetokounmp is reported to have agreed to the lesser deal in an effort to help the team keep its young core together.
Dubbed the "Greek Freak," he registered a team-high five triple doubles last season, finishing the year with averages of 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
Coach Jason Kidd is on record with his plan to use his multitalented star at point guard this season in a lineup that also features young up-and-coming star Jabari Parker.