LeBron James has reiterated his desire to see the Cleveland Cavaliers ensure J.R. Smith is resigned for the upcoming season.
James, 31, signed a three-year extension with the Cavs himself this summer after bringing Cleveland its’ first NBA Championship last season and believes Smith, who played a huge part in their title run, deserves to be rewarded for his efforts with a sufficient contract.
“Negotiations are always two-sides, but J.R. did his part,” James said Friday following practice. “He showed up every day, ecame a two-way player, a model citizen in Cleveland and he’s a fan favorite, obviously we all know that. All of the sudden now he’s a season ticket holder at the Indians games.
“We just miss him. We miss having him around. He’s a big piece of our team and they just need to get it done.”
The shooting guard averaged 43% from three-point range last year, helping him average a total of 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals.
Despite his heavy contribution, the Cavs currently remain unmoved over their valuation over Smith, who earned $5million last year but is believed to want $10million for the 2016/17 season.
This isn’t of course the first time that the Cavs have found themselves in this position, having been in a similar position with centre Tristan Thompson last season, before he eventually signed a five-year, $82 million contract extension.
James – who shares the same agent as Smith – hasn’t made a secret of his dissatisfaction over the Cavs’ unwillingness to make sure they resign one of his closest teammates in the locker room.
“I hate coming into another season – two years in a row – with one of my big guns not here.
“So, for a leader of a team and for me personally, I just hate to deal with this 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.”