It will be a long time before J.R. Smith is back in uniform for the Cavaliers, writes Joe Vardon of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Smith, who broke his right thumb December 20th, has a doctor’s appointment today and hopes to be cleared to start cardio work. But basketball drills are a long way off as the thumb continues to heal. Smith was given a 12- to 14-week prognosis after suffering the injury, which would put him on track for a return in late March or early April, right before the playoffs begin. “I need to be able to do something to get my heart rate up before I can even think about playing again,” said Smith, who signed a four-year, $57MM deal before the season started. “It’s crazy cuz it’s still a long ways away. From when I start being able to work out, it’s still a long ways away from me being able to get on the court.”
There’s more news out of Cleveland:
- Smith gave his approval to the deal that brought Kyle Korver to the Cavs, Vardon writes in the same piece. Korver is averaging 8.4 points in five games since the trade and has given the team another outside shooter to make up for Smith’s absence. “He’s good,” Smith said. “Space the floor. Gives a great effort on the defensive end. And we really need the shooting.”
- The Cavaliers are among the teams rumored to be interested in Suns’ forward P.J. Tucker, but Sam Amico of Amicohoops doesn’t see Tucker as a good fit in Cleveland. Phoenix is looking for young players and draft picks, which the Cavs don’t really have to offer, and he wouldn’t be guaranteed playing time with Cleveland’s current roster.
- Iman Shumpert has scored in double figures in all three games since replacing DeAndre Liggins in the starting lineup last week, notes Chris Fedor of The Plain Dealer. Shumpert had a season-high 17 points in Thursday’s win over Phoenix. “He started off the season shooting the ball great and I thought in the second lineup trying to have him play the backup point asking him to do too much,” said coach Tyronn Lue. “Now he’s back in his comfort zone.”