* Editor’s Note: The Cavs reportedly signed Smith to a four-year, $57 million deal on Friday, Oct. 14.
LeBron James is pressing the Cleveland Cavaliers to re-sign free agent guard J.R. Smith.
“I hate coming into another season—two years in a row—with one of my big guns not here,” James told reporters on Friday, referencing last year’s lengthy contract negotiation with teammate Tristan Thompson. “So, for a leader of a team and for me personally, I just hate to deal with this s--- again. It’s just too big of a piece to our team to have to deal with in another training camp.”
That dispute was eventually settled on Oct. 22, 2015 when the Cavs signed Thompson to a five-year, $82 million deal.
“Negotiations, there are always two sides,” James added. “But J.R. did his part. He showed up every day. Worked his ass off every day, became 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 now at the Indians games. We just miss him, man.”
Smith, 31, came over from the Knicks along with Iman Shumpert in a trade during the 2015 season. He averaged 12.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 30.7 minutes as a starter for the Cavs during their championship season last year.
– Kenny Ducey