Former Cavs GM David Griffin says J.R. Smith hasn’t been motivated to stay in shape

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J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith signed a four-year, $57 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers in October of 2016 and the man who gave him that contract is now reflecting on it.

Former Cavs general manager David Griffin, now a TV analyst, told Cleveland.com that Smith hasn’t been motivated to stay in shape since signing that long-term deal.

“I think the fact that he got guaranteed money moving forward really made it so he was less likely to keep himself in shape than when he was going year to year,” Griffin said on the Wine and Gold Podcast. “There was a reason he was so good on a year-to-year contract. So, I think to some degree, he shows up out of shape and then he gets injured getting himself in shape. I think he’s still capable of playing high-level basketball. But he hasn’t been motivated to be that since he signed the deal, so you would have to say in that situation, the deal wasn’t the right deal, because it didn’t bring out the best in J.R.”

Smith is slated to make $14.7 million in 2018-19 and has $3.9 million guaranteed in 2019-20. The 14-year veteran averaged 8.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 80 regular season games last season, shooting 40.3 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three.

During the Cavs’ postseason run, Smith posted 8.7 points and shot only 34.8 percent overall and 36.7 percent from beyond the arc. The 32-year-old committed a careless error in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Smith got the offensive rebound off of a George Hill missed free throw, but dribbled the ball out to the perimeter, clearly not knowing that the game was tied.

The Cavs lost Game 1 in overtime and eventually got swept by the Warriors.

Cleveland has tried to trade Smith this offseason, but hasn’t had any luck in finding a suitor for him. The Houston Rockets kicked the tires on Smith in July, as they were looking for another wing player after losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency.

Houston acquired guard Brandon Knight from the Phoenix Suns and is no longer interested in Smith.

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