Smith cleared waivers on Wednesday and must pass a physical before he can sign with the Cavaliers, who reluctantly traded him away last summer. Smith is not expected to be in uniform for Wednesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks but should be ready for Cleveland's game in Boston on Friday.
Smith bought out his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder for a chance to rejoin the Cavs (47-12), who have the Eastern Conference's best record. Smith averaged 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in 36 games for the Thunder.
The 6-foot-10 Smith will help offset the loss of Ben Wallace, who is expected to miss at least three more weeks with a broken leg.
Smith played in 27 regular-season games and made 13 playoff appearances for the Cavaliers last season after he was acquired in a trade before the deadline. Cleveland dealt him in August in a three-way deal to get All-Star guard Mo Williams from Milwaukee.
Williams was Smith's teammate and neighbor when both played for the Bucks. Williams is looking forward to playing with his close friend again.
"He'll do what he's done his whole career, just be solid Joe," Williams said. "You know what you're going to get -- nothing more, nothing less. He's going to be solid every night, day in and day out. He's going to knock down the open shot, rebound and defend. His basketball IQ is at a high level. He's a true professional.
"He's a great pickup and will be a role model for our young guys," Williams said.
When Wallace comes back, Smith will give the Cavs more front-court depth and experience.
"It's a great thing for us," center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. "It gives us another big into the rotation. It will cut down some minutes for me, which is good. It's hard to play high minutes at this point in the season. We'll have a big who can shoot, play good defense, a great teammate who knows the system. I expect him to fit right in."