J.R. Smith’s decision to test free agency after reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers has cost the shooting guard $1.5 million.
Smith, 29, opted out of the final year of the three-year deal he had signed with the New York Knicks in 2013 worth $6.5 million in order to cash in as a free agent.
But more than a month later, Smith is reportedly re-signing with the Cavaliers on a two-year contract that will pay him $5 million this season.
“When I opted out of my contract, I wanted to understand the landscape of the NBA and where I fit best,” Smith wrote on Instagram. “The Cavaliers had things they needed to do in order to piece together a championship caliber roster. I ended up deciding that instead of potentially securing a larger deal elsewhere, I wanted to rejoin an incredible organization in pursuit of the ultimate goal, an NBA championship.”
Smith does have a player option for the second year, which would allow him to become a free agent once again, with a possibly better result as the NBA salary cap rises from $70 million to potentially $90 million.
“That’s always part of the gamble of opting out,” Smith said in late July, according to Cleveland.com.
The Cavaliers gambled on Smith in January when they acquired the gunslinger with a reputation for bad decisions off the court with guard Iman Shumpert in January.
Smith averaged 12.7 points while shooting 39% from behind the three-point arc over 46 regular season games for the Cavaliers. However, he earned a two-game suspension for elbowing the Boston Celtics’ Jae Crowder during the playoffs and went cold in the NBA Finals.
In six games against the Golden State Warriors, Smith shot just 31% from the field while taking 77 shots. His three-point percentage took a nosedive as well, dropping to 29.4% on 51 tries.
Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme