JR Smith remains a free agent with over a month before the new NBA season begins and less than a week before the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team he helped win the championship last season, opens a voluntary mini-training camp.
Still, the controversial shooting guard disclosed his decision is coming soon.
Smith told Complex’s Adam Caparell that he’s hoping to re-sign with the Cavs but there are things both sides are still working on.
"Well, obviously we’re not where we want to be at from a personal standpoint. But it’s more than just numbers,” he said.
“I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of the Cavs for everything they’ve done for me, and I don’t want them to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. It’s more of a mutual respect thing," Smith added.
Smith also shared what factors are holding him back from taking a deal in Cleveland or signing a more lucrative offer elsewhere. But ultimately, he said he’s looking for the right fit.
“Financially, you can always go somewhere else. Team morale-wise, there are a few teams that I could see working. There are guys I would like to play with, guys I have played with,” said Smith.
“Being able to live in that city or a particular place, school systems, kids, family life—[with] free agency, everything comes into play. Before, I could just sit there and be like, 'I don’t care where I go.' But now I have the kids, and it’s like, 'Ok, what’s the best fit?'” he added.
But league sources told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that Smith’s camp are ‘in it for the long haul’ with the negotiations in Cleveland until they find the deal they seek. Smith declined his $5.3 million player option for the upcoming season to test the robust free-agent market that saw shooting guards like Jamal Crawford, Courtney Lee and Eric Gordon land deals of at least $10 million a year.
With the same agent Rich Paul as LeBron James and Tristan Thompson, Smith is optimistic on landing the deal he wants from Cleveland, hopefully soon to prevent a similar situation like Thompson last season when he missed majority of training camp before agreeing to a five-year, $82 million deal with the Cavaliers.
“Soon, I hope,” Smith responded when asked when he expects to reach an agreement with Cleveland.
The Cavs, though, are already over the salary cap with the 12 players under contract and are limited to signing a player using the veteran’s minimum. But with James himself vouching for Smith to return to Cleveland, it would not be a surprise to find Smith in a Cavs jersey when the season opens.