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Report: JR Smith turns down $1.6 million offer to play in China

JR Smith

Free agent shooting guard JR Smith reportedly turned down an offer worth $1.6 million to play professionally in China with Jiangsu, per Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia.

Smith, 33, was waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers in July this year following a five-year stint with the Eastern Conference franchise.

The former 18th overall selection in the 2004 NBA Draft is seeking a new professional home since his departure from the Cavs, where he helped Cleveland win its franchise-first championship in 2016 along with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love.

The Cavs have slowly begun deconstructing its title-clinching roster and entering rebuild mode after 2017’s Irving trade and last summer’s free-agency decision by James to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Smith, who won the 2012-13 Sixth Man of the Year award with the New York Knicks, sat out most of the 2018-19 season seeking a trade from general manager Koby Altman and the Cavs’ front office.

Last month, when no suitable trade destination was found, the northeast Ohio franchise finally bit the bullet and traded Smith in spite of his double-digit millions of dollars contract.

Due to the move, Altman and Cleveland will have to pay Smith around $1.5 million until 2021-22, affecting the young team’s cap sheet in the foreseeable future.

Smith averaged 10.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 255 regular-season appearances for the Cavs, shooting 40.1% from the floor, 38.1% from deep, and 69.7% from the free-throw line.

While Smith is a respected outside shooter, the current free agent is still team-less due to his age and past transgressions making him vulnerable to locker room skepticism.

Declining an invitation to the CBA—on the same day Jeremy Lin announced he would sign with the Beijing Ducks, no less—should signal that Smith believes he can still find a new franchise to play with during the 2019-20 NBA season.