J.R. Smith will return to the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers after signing a new deal following a lengthy off-season negotiation for the veteran shooting guard, the team announced Saturday.
Smith’s contract is reportedly a four-year agreement worth as much as $57 million, incentives potentially boosting the dal beyond the $14 million a season he had sought.
The 31-year-old long-range sharpshooter played in 77 games last season for the Cavaliers, averaging 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 30.7 minutes a contest.
“Bringing J.R. back as part of our core group was a priority for us,” Cavaliers general manager David Griffin said. “He’s a special part of this family and we are very pleased to have reached an agreement that we all can feel good about.”
Cleveland made the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history to defeat the Golden State Warriors in seven games and claim the city’s first major sports crown in half a century.
“We know he can’t wait to get back on the court with his brothers and we are certain that everyone in this organization and city feels the same way,” Griffin said.
Smith ranked seventh in the NBA last season with a club-record 204 3-pointers, shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc.
In the playoffs, Snmith started all 21 games for the Cavaliers, averaging 11.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 34.8 minutes a game. His club record 65 playoff 3-pointers were the fourth-most by any NBA player in a post-season run.
Over 839 games in a 12-year NBA career, Smith has averaged 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.02 steals for New Orleans, Denver, New York and the Cavaliers.
Cavaliers superstar LeBron James had been critical of the team taking so long to sign Smith, saying he was vital to Cleveland’s repeat bid and concerned other clubs might sign him.
Smith can join his teammates Tuesday for the Cavaliers’ final pre-season exhibition game against Washington at Columbus, Ohio, before Cleveland raises the championship banner in the October 25 season opener against Smith’s former team, the visiting New York Knicks.
© 2016 AFP
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