Before the 2018-19 NBA season officially started, the Cleveland Cavaliers already informed some of their veterans, including J.R. Smith, that they would be receiving lesser playing time in order to prioritize the development of their young players. Smith only played four minutes in their first three games of the season, but Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue decided to put him back in their rotation in their fourth and fifth games.
That proved to be a bad decision as it cost Tyronn Lue his job as the Cavaliers head coach. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland Plain Dealer, J.R. Smith has spoken to Lue about his decision to go against the management’s order, but the 41-year-old mentor didn’t seem to be worried about the consequence of his actions.
When the Cavaliers fired Tyronn Lue, J.R. Smith was once again out of the Cavaliers’ rotation in their 136-114 victory against the Atlanta Hawks. Recently, the veteran shooting guard reportedly met with Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman to discuss his future with the team.
“Sources told cleveland.com that after sensing poor body language from Smith and worrying about how his attitude could impact the team, Altman sat down with Smith a few days ago and asked the 33-year-old guard whether he wanted to stay around while being glued to the bench. If Smith wasn’t going to be a leader for the young Cavs and was instead going to sulk, Altman said it would be better for him to go home. Smith opted to stay.”
ESPN story on possibility of a fine for Cleveland's JR Smith for discussing desire to be traded. https://t.co/RzitWaD71m
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 1, 2018
At first, J.R. Smith expressed his desire to still be part of the Cavaliers’ long-term plans, even though there is a huge possibility that he will spend the rest of the season mostly sitting on the bench. However, it seems like Smith has already changed his mind and wants his way out of Cleveland. Though he is yet to officially demand a trade from the Cavaliers, Smith believes they already know that he wants to leave.
“They know,” Smith said. “They don’t want me so they obviously know.
At this point in his career, J.R. Smith definitely wants to be on a team that will give him the opportunity to remain competitive. However, as one league source told Cleveland Plain Dealer, trading Smith is “easier said than done.” Smith still has two years left on his contract and based on his performance last season, it is highly likely that the Cavaliers will need to give up future draft picks just to find him a new home.