J.R. Might Not Play Much Next Year… Here’s Why

We just might be counting down the days until the end of J.R. Smith’s time in Cleveland is up. The 32-year-old shooting guard is coming off of one of his worst season performances, statistically speaking. He averaged just 8.3 PPG on 40.3% from the floor and 37.5% from deep to go along with 2.9 RPG and 1.8 APG. This is a huge drop from his first 2 seasons with the Cavs, where he averaged upwards of 12 PPG and nearly 40.0% from 3-point land.

J.R. was a huge part of the team back when LeBron James was running the show. James was publically a huge supporter of the veteran guard, and the two worked very well together. James would draw double teams or attract the defenses to focus on him, and J.R. would move without the ball to get to an open spot on the perimeter to set himself up for an easy 3-point shot. The problem is that LeBron is no longer here to draw those double teams or attract the defense to focus on him. J.R. has been pretty much reliant on James to create good looks from the field for him over these past few seasons, but without LeBron, J.R. may very well be on his way out.

And this is no surprise. The Cavs have been openly shopping Smith and fellow spot-up shooter Kyle Korver. The reason? To free up some salary space to make some late acquisitions this summer, as well as prepare the team for bigger offseasons in years to come. J.R. is currently set to make $14.7 million in 2018-2019 and has $3.9 million guaranteed for the following season. Trading away J.R. and his large contract will free up space for the team to make some last minute moves this year.

The first suitor who responded to the trade claims were the Houston Rockets, who seem to want another wing player who can shoot the 3-ball after losing Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns and Luc Mbah a Moute to the Los Angeles Clippers, as per ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com said it bluntly in his report about J.R.’s situation next season:

“I haven’t talked to Tyronn Lue about this yet so we’re kind of guessing here, but the roster was already taking shape to where you wondered how much playing time J.R. was going to get…

Because you could see a scenario where either George Hill & Collin Sexton start together or you could see Sexton, Rodney Hood, & Cedi Osman start together. Hill, Cedi & Hood could start. Of those 4 players, you could see 3 of them starting and none of them are named J.R.

In the second unit, you’ve got Clarkson, Korver, Tristan – I’m assuming Nance Jr. starts – Channing, and Zizic.”

J.R.’s name remains without a mention. And this isn’t likely to change unless he begins to perform like he did back in his years with the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks. Again, this is not to say that another team couldn’t utilize J.R. because it seems that Houston at least is interested in the thought of acquiring the veteran. It’s just that for the Cavs moving forward, having J.R. on the roster would just be taking up space that could be used on a more useful player for the future of the team.

Feature Image via Flikr/EDrost88

My name is Matthew Geyman. I am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Baltimore Ravens, but really just enjoy watching and playing any sports (although I'm best at golf and basketball). I play electric guitar and my genre of choice (both for listening and playing) is heavy metal. In my free time, I like to read and play video games. My favorite books tend to be those of Greek mythology, although any book that is captivating is certainly going to interest me. As for video games, I delve into a wide spectrum, from sports games to adventure games to racing games. I also have a great passion for American history and enjoy reading primary documents or sources whenever given the opportunity.

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