The departure of LeBron James didn’t only take away the Cleveland Cavaliers’ status as a legitimate title contender, but it also turned them into one of the worst NBA teams in the league. Entering the season without James, the Cavaliers are struggling to win games and currently sitting in the 15th spot in the Eastern Conference with a 1-9 record.
After a 0-6 start, the Cavaliers decided to fire Tyronn Lue and replace him with Larry Drew as head coach. With the team prioritizing the development of their young players, some of the Cavaliers’ veterans, including J.R. Smith, have found themselves out of the team’s rotation. After losing the starting spot, Smith is clearly unhappy with what is happening with the Cavaliers and recently expressed his desire to be traded somewhere else.
According to Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, J.R. Smith will fit best with a playoff-bound team who need an athletic wing who has the ability to space the floor. One of the NBA teams who could use Smith is the New Orleans Pelicans. In the proposed trade deal, the Pelicans will be sending Solomon Hill and a 2019 second-round pick to the Cavaliers for Smith. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine.
“Moving Smith to New Orleans gives the Pelicans another wing scorer to help balance out their strong point guard and power forward/center play. Smith would be an upgrade over Hill as an outside shooter next to Davis for a team that ranks 25th in three-point attempts. For Cleveland to take on the extra money next season, the Pelicans tack on a second-round pick either now or in the future to seal the deal.”
Despite his age, there is no doubt that J.R. Smith is a much better wingman than Solomon Hill. Smith will not only give the Pelicans a reliable three-point shooter, but he could also boost their performance on the defensive end of the floor. Being in the NBA Finals for four straight years, the addition of Smith could greatly help Anthony Davis and the Pelicans make a deep playoff run this season.
The outcome of the 2018-19 NBA season will be vital for the Pelicans since it could determine Davis’ future in New Orleans. If they fail to at least advance to the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs, it is highly likely that Davis’ name will surface in various trade rumors once again in the 2019 NBA offseason.