JR surprised by demotion to Cavs' second unit

From ESPN - March 13, 2018

PHOENIX -- With the Cavaliers mired in a two-game losing streak, dropping their record to just 6-6 since February's trade deadline, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue decided to shake up his team again by bringing JR Smith off the bench against the Suns on Tuesday and starting Kyle Korver in his place.

Korver will be replaced in the starting lineup by Rodney Hood whenever Hood's sore lower back feels well enough to play. Hood went through shootaround Tuesday but was ruled out of the game.

"I just felt like it," Lue said when asked about the timing of his decision to bench Smith.

It is the second time this season that Lue has demoted Smith from the starting five to the second unit, also making the move to start the 2017-18 campaign, when Dwyane Wade was still on the team.

Despite Smith averaging just 8.3 points on 39 percent shooting overall and 36.2 percent from the 3 line, Lue stood by the 14-year veteran, telling reporters last month that Smith earned that faith, in part, because of his role in helping the Cavs capture the 2016 NBA championship.

Since then, however, the 32-year-old Smith was suspended for one game for throwing a bowl of soup at assistant coach Damon Jones. Smith is coming off a 1 for 7 shooting night in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, scoring just three points in 23 minutes.

Lue said that he and Smith had a positive talk about the lineup change.

"It was good," Lue said.

Smith said that there was no conversation with his coach about the move.

"We did not talk," Smith told ESPN. "He sent me a text [Monday], and I told him, 'No problem.' I did not know that it was a 'talk.'"

Smith acknowledged he was surprised by the change.

"That's all right, though," Smith said. "I am not upset about it. I just wish there would have been more dialogue, I guess."


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