by Jake Kauffman
J.R. Smith has helped the Cavaliers reached 3 straight NBA Finals and capture the first champion in Cleveland since 1964, mostly as a starter but now with the addition of 12-time All Star Dwyane Wade, the man they call Swish may be switching roles.
Smith though has been positive about the Cavs adding Wade, “I love it, it gives us more depth especially on the wing position, obviously he brings a championship pedigree, he’s a multiple All-Star, soon to be a Hall of Famer so I love it,” said Smith after Thursday’s practice.
JR however doesn’t see much of a change coming to his spot on the Wine and Gold, “I don’t think it’ll affect my situation, do the same thing I always do, guard the ball, guard the best perimeter (player), stretch the floor so whenever he’s in and I’m not, we’ll figure it out,” added Smith.
No matter who the starter ends up being once the season rolls around, the Cavaliers should be in good shape according to JR, “If anything it makes us stronger, whether I come off the bench or he comes off the bench,” Smith said. “I don’t really focus on it honestly, it’s my 14th year coming up, I’ve had a lot of BS in my past so I don’t plan on bringing that to the game….I’m going to focus if I’m a starter or not, if coach needs me to start, I’ll start, if he needs me to come off the bench, I’ll come off the bench. I’m not going to sit here and get into a measuring contest with Dwyane Wade, I’m not going to win that.”
The coach JR was talking about is Ty Lue and he had nothing but praise for the newest Cavalier after his first practice with the team, “It just adds another guy with a great basketball IQ, future Hall of Famer, perennial All-Star, he just knows how to play the game, makes it smart on the floor, its a great addition to have,” said Lue on Thursday.
Lue also started to talk about the dynamic lineups he can start to put together with Wade now in camp, “We’ve got a lot of veteran guys, a lot of guys that can play a lot of combinations, a lot of different ways.”
Coach also has starting to put together a lineup but couldn’t get official after just one practice with his new shooting guard, “We have a plan in place, I’m not going to say who’s going to start as of right now but we have a plan in place and we’ll see how it looks then go from there.”
JR used to team in the backcourt with Kyrie Irving, both players known for their 3 point marksmanship but the potential starting backcourt now would feature fellow new Cav Derrick Rose and Wade who hit just 60 shots combined from long distance last season in New York and Chicago respectively. Finding open shots and spacing the floor to start games will be a new challenge facing Ty Lue but like the coach said, he has a plan in place, “When you’re on the floor, LeBron’s gonna make you better, DWade can make you better, DRose can make you better, KLove can make you better, Jeff Green’s a great passer so we’re got a lot of different opportunities to put guys in different places,” said Lue. “It’s not more so the spacing, it’ll be more so the cutting, moving without the basketball, things like that.”
For what it’s worth J.R. Smith won the 2013 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award with the Knicks and has come off the bench for 550 games in his career compared to Wade who has started all but 11 games his 14 seasons in the NBA.