J.R. Smith, who helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2016 National Basketball Association title, will no longer play for the league-worst Cavs as they try to rebuild after losing superstar LeBron James.
Smith joined the Cavaliers in 2015 from the New York Knicks and was a key outside shooter in the team's 2016 championship run, but is averaging a career-low 6.7 points a game this season. "I think that was always the plan".
Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love may not be back until sometime in 2019 following foot surgery.
The Cavs are slated to host James and the Lakers at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday for the first time since the superstar left for Los Angeles. Because of this, Smith's contract has a measure of value in trade next summer and because of this the Cavs have been reluctant to buy Smith out, sources said.
The Cavs enter play sitting a league-worst 2-13.
In other words, the Cavs are trying to trade Smith. Veterans have seen their minutes given to young players. At the time, the team said Love would be out at least six weeks and his status would be updated in "approximately" when that period ended. "It's not a secret", James said in an interview with The Athletic.
Smith has said he does not want his time in Cleveland to end with a buyout, but that may end up being the best possible solution for both sides. I don't think that's fair to the trainers or equipment guys. "I appreciate lessons I've learned and I'm just ready to move forward". While he likely won't return until mid-January now, any delays in his rehab could push that date until sometime in February.