Advertisement

Smith 'hurt' when initially told Wade was starter

From ESPN - October 13, 2017

JR Smith was taken aback by Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue's decision to start Dwyane Wade after he was initially told that Wade was brought in as a backup, Smith shared on an episode of the "Road Trippin'" podcast with teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye.

"Honestly, I was hurt, man," Smith said on the podcast, which posted Friday. "I was really emotionally drained at that point. I got wind of it that it was going to go down, but I did not know. I was told he's going to be great for the second unit. ... It would be a great fit for the team, whatever, whatever. I am like, 'Awesome, let's do it. One hundred percent. Out of all people, another person we are going to just grab for damn-near nothing? For sure. Let's do it.'"

Smith then shared the message he received, presumably from Lue, followed by his reaction to the news.

"'Well, we got to start him,'" Smith said. "'Wait, what? Now we are talking about two totally different things. Wait a minute.'"

Smith, who on media day said, "As long as we win, I do not care," when asked about Wade coming to the Cavs and perhaps affecting his role, opened up about his reaction when the possibility of Wade starting became a reality.

"My first initial thought, it was not even to be selfish because that's not just who I am as a player and as a person," Smith said. "I am a one-track mind. It's what I have always been. That's just me. So when you tell me something, I look at it as gold. So when you tell me something else, literally a couple of days later, it's like, ah, now I got to change my mind frame from where I was at the last three years to flip it back to me being the sixth man -- a successful three years, an extremely successful three years, I mean, we have been to three straight Finals.

"So to revert back, and the first thing I thought about was New York, like, 'Damn. I got to go back to being the sixth man and just scoring, scoring, scoring. Being aggressive.' And at the same time, also, I am looking at our lineup like, my first thought with the lineup was, 'OK, but who is going to stretch the floor? OK, we got Jae [Crowder], who is a knock-down 3-point shooter, Kev [Kevin Love] is a knock-down 3-point shooter, but that's two out of the five guys that's got to be on the floor."

Jefferson said that Smith addressed the team as a group following the lineup shuffle. Smith also said he vented to Tristan Thompson, who also lost his starting job this season, as earlier reported by Cleveland.com.

Frye and Jefferson, who have both seen their roles diminished since the Cavs' 2016 title run, empathized with Smith. "For us, Richard and I, we understand that you got to take a sacrifice," Frye said. "Everybody has to sacrifice something."

Then Jefferson interjected, poking fun at his precarious spot on the roster. Cleveland has 16 players on guaranteed contracts and will need to either waive a player or make a trade by opening night to get it down to the max allotment of 15. Jefferson, who has a $2.5 million deal this year and only a partially guaranteed pact next season, could very well end up being moved.

"I am sacrificing my way out of here," said Jefferson.

"Oh, God, come on," Frye replied. "Rich? Too soon. Too soon."

Advertisement

Continue reading at ESPN »