Cavaliers veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith was one of the key players who helped LeBron James bring the first NBA championship title in Cleveland. However, after signing a new contract in 2016, Smith has become very inconsistent on both ends of the floor. When James left his hometown team for the second time in the recent free agency, Smith turned from a major contributor to becoming the odd man out in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers entered the 2018-19 NBA season with the hope of defending their title as Eastern Conference champions. However, without the best basketball player on the planet on their side, the Cavaliers may even have a hard time earning a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season. As of now, the Cavaliers are the worst NBA team in the league, sitting in the No. 15 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 2-13 record.
The Cavaliers haven’t made any public statement, but J.R. Smith knows what is exactly the team’s priority right now.
“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith told The Athletic. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”
When the Cavaliers fired Tyronn Lue after a 0-6 start, J.R. Smith has expressed his interest to be traded somewhere else. At 33, there is no doubt that the veteran shooting guard is already on the near end of his NBA career. Smith will surely prefer to spend his remaining years in the league competing for the NBA championship title.
JR Smith tells The Athletic the Cavs are tanking and reiterates he wants out. With LeBron's return game up next, those left behind are still processing their new reality in their own ways. https://t.co/Cu1qYPljGb
— Jason Lloyd (@ByJasonLloyd) November 20, 2018
On Twitter, Rachel Nichols of ESPN posted a statement from the Cavaliers about J.R. Smith and his nearing departure with the team. The Cavaliers thanked Smith for his contributions, especially in helping the team win their first NBA championship title in 2016.
“The Cleveland Cavaliers announced today that JR Smith will no longer be with the team as the organization works with JR and his representation regarding his future. The organization wishes JR and his family well and appreciates and thanks him for his contribution in the community, to the team and his role in the 2016 NBA Championship.”
Despite being considered as the odd man out in Cleveland, J.R. Smith will still be a great addition to a team who needs a defensive-minded wing that can also be a threat from beyond the arc. Teams who want to clear salary cap space may also consider trading for Smith since only $3.8 million of his $15.6 million salary for the next season is guaranteed.