Unable to trade what was once believed to be a valuable expiring contract, the Cavaliers waived guard J.R. Smith on Monday.
The move, along with stretching over the next three years the $4.4 million guaranteed to Smith, reportedly got the Cavs under the $132 million luxury tax threshold for the 2019-2020 season.
Presuming he clears waivers, Smith will become an unrestricted free agent at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The Cavs were expected to waive or trade Smith by a June 30 deadline so they could pay him only $3.87 million of his guaranteed $15.68 million salary for next season. On June 29, Smith agreed to push back that date to Monday, with an option to push it again to Aug. 1, in exchange for his guaranteed money being increased to $4.4 million.
The Cavs had offers for Smith, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, but opted not to pay the luxury and repeater taxes in the second season of what could be a long rebuild.
Acquired in a January 2015 three-team swap from the New York Knicks, Smith helped the Cavs reach four consecutive NBA Finals and win the 2016 title in LeBron James' second stint in Cleveland.
Smith had not been with the Cavs since Nov. 20, a day after he told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic he had no desire to play for an organization that had no interest in winning. That night a loss in Detroit dropped the Cavs to 2-13. He played in just 11 games last season, averaging 6.7 points and shooting .308 from 3-point range.
In his four-plus seasons with the Cavs, Smith averaged 10.3 points and shot .381 from long distance while averaging 29.3 minutes in 255 games (with 222 starts). He posted his best numbers with the Cavs during the championship season, his last in double figures, when he scored 12.4 points per game and shot .400 on 3s while averaging 30.7 minutes in 77 games, all starts.
His third-quarter performance in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals at Golden State made him a Cleveland cult hero and left a lasting memory for owner Dan Gilbert.
"We were down I think nine in the second half and it was his eight, nine, 10 points that really got us back into Game 7," Gilbert said on Nov. 7. "Will be forever grateful. That's what I think of when I think of J.R."
Smith, who turns 34 on Sept. 9, participated in the celebrity softball game on July 7 during Major League Baseball's All-Star week and said he doesn't believe his 15-year NBA career is over. He was the 18th overall pick of the New Orleans Hornets in 2004 out of St. Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark, N.J.
"I don't think that's a possibility at this point. I know I will," he said of continuing to play in the league. "Maybe years down the line I won't. As of right now that's the furthest thing ... "
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