Cavs’ Smith not pleased with reserve role

J.R. Smith already seems to be adjusting to life as a reserve for the Cavaliers.

J.R. Smith is less than thrilled with his role coming off the Cleveland Cavaliers’ bench, he indicated in an exclusive interview with Joe Vardon of

“Was working hard all summer and then coming in and not even really having a chance to earn my spot, but it’s alright,” Smith told Vardon. “It is what it is.”

Smith has lost his starting shooting guard job, for now, to Dwyane Wade, who signed with the Cavs last month. Wade is tight with LeBron James — and James told he had prepared Smith for the news.

“Was pretty much bracing myself for it,” Smith said.

Smith added to that losing his starting role was “absolutely” frustrating.

Smith and center Tristan Thompson were moved to reserve roles by Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to make room for newcomers. With Wade, Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose, the Cavs have three new starters. Also, Kevin Love switched from starting power forward to Thompson’s old role of starting center.

Smith told he has discussed the changes with Thompson.

“We talked about it,” Smith told “It wasn’t the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we’ll get through it together.”

Thompson, by the way, could become available in trade talks later in the season, depending on how he fares in his new role, sources have indicated to Amico Hoops.

“Me and JR, we know what we’ve brought to this team, what we’ve done the last three years, being in three Finals,” Thompson told “But at the end of the day, to win a championship you’ve got to sacrifice. We both know that and coming off the bench in that second unit, you gotta be a spark.”

Smith scored one point on 0-of-6 shooting in his first preseason game off the bench in Tuesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. Iman Shumpert was the first guard off the bench.

Thompson fared considerably better, playing with great energy in scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds in his first 10 minutes in reserve. He finished with 11 boards.

Smith, 32, averaged 8.6 points in 41 games during a season that he would just as soon forget, given a major thumb injury and the premature birth of his daughter — both of which admittedly impacted his play.

5 Comments on "Cavs’ Smith not pleased with reserve role"

  1. Martin Reese | October 11, 2017 at 10:12 am |

    Hey Sam,
    Do you see this as being a problem in season? Everybody says they are about sacrifice, but they sure don’t sound happy.

    • Hey Martin, I don’t see it being an issue. Honestly, nearly every player on every team thinks he should be starting and/or getting more playing time. (That’s not exclusive to the NBA, either.) JR voicing his frustration may be a surprise to fans — but it’s no surprise to those who play the game. It’s just that most players don’t admit it to the media. JR is as honest and as real as they come, though. So I give him credit for not acting like he loves coming off bench. I don’t think it will be a problem.

      • requiredbylaw | October 12, 2017 at 9:58 pm |

        Is the 2nd team going to come out with JR and Shump at the guards? Or is there a reason for Calderon that I can’t see (goes without saying.)?

  2. Adam Warlock | October 11, 2017 at 11:14 am |

    JR Smith won an enormous contract from Cleveland that he never would have gotten last year. When he’s on, he’s one of the best shooters. When he’s off, he’s one of the worst. He got paid full salary to sit out 90 % of last season, so how he is grumbling about starting, I have no idea. TT was invisible in the Finals last year with the Kurse in full effect. Maybe having these guys off the bench will light a fire under them to get them to prove they are worth their enormous contracts this year. Highest paid bench in the NBA.

  3. Jr has the heart of the city of Cleveland. Tristan can go with his noise Jr we love you

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