The player has announced that he will be returning to last season’s Eastern Conference champions on Instagram, stating that he is happy with the outcome and believe that the Cavaliers have what it takes to contend for an NBA championship again. He reportedly signed a $5 million per year deal with the Cavaliers, while securing his place there through clauses which forbid the team trading him without his permission.
Smith reportedly refused more sound financial options as he wants to pursue silverware with one of the league’s most talented teams. The new contract itself is a $700k downgrade from his former one, but it’s hard to argue that he made the wrong choice; with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in the fray, he will probably find more open spaces on the court that at any other team in the league.
The 29-year old Smith looked to be just another extremely talented player who threw his career off the track due to personal reasons, as he struggled with his form in New York. But his and Iman Shumpert’s mid-season trade to the Cavs in early 2015 was one of the moves which revitalized a team which started 19-20, as it ended up second seed in the Eastern Conference and offered a great challenge to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
But returning now, he will also face a lot of competition at the small forward or shooting guard positions he thrives in when played. While SF is the territory of LeBron James, he could find playing time there if coach David Blatt goes with a small line-up, pushing James into the power forward spot. But even then he’ll have to contend with veterans James Jones and Richard Jefferson, the latter signed-up in free agency this summer, and who are arguably better defenders then smith despite lacking his offensive explosion.
If played as a shooting guard, Smith will probably find himself behind Iman Shumpert on the starter list as it happened last season; though the former Knicks duo split their playing time quite evenly last season, they might find serious competition from returning Cav Mo Williams, who seemed to be back to his old scoring ways last season in Charlotte and Minnesota as he managed to drop a career-high 52 point game in January against the Indiana Pacers.
Image Source: USA TODAY