J.R. Smith‘s 2017/18 season has been a difficult one, but head coach Tyronn Lue‘s loyalty to Smith dates back to Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. In defense of his shooting guard, Lue referenced Smith’s eight straight points in the third quarter of that decisive seventh game and his overall value to the team.
“Sometimes your shot is going to come and go, that’s just part of the game,” Lue said. “For the most part, his effort is there every night. That’s why I wanted to stick with J.R. and I don’t want to lose J.R. Make sure keep him in good spirits, going in the right direction. He’s big for us. When he’s making shots, when he’s being aggressive, our team is a whole different team.”
Leading up to the trade deadline, Smith’s name was floated in several trade scenarios as the Cavaliers — who ended dismantling and restructuring the roster — looked to improve. Smith has played better recently, posting 15 points in Cleveland’s win over the Celtics on Sunday.
There’s more news out of the Cavaliers organization:
- As part of the three-team deal that netted the Cavaliers veteran George Hill, Cleveland also acquired the rights to Lithuanian big man Arturas Gudaitis. Gudaitis was a second-round pick of the Sixers in 2015 but he has been stashed away overseas. Per basketball journalist David Pick (via Twitter), Gudaitis is on track to strike a lucrative deal with Italian team Olimpia Milano that runs until 2021 and will include flexible NBA opt-outs.
- It was just one game with the Cavaliers‘ reshaped roster, but the early results are promising, Chris Mannix of Yahoo! Sports writes. LeBron James look re-energized, the new players seemed to play their roles properly and the flow of the game was consistent. There are still several months to go in the regular season but, as Mannix notes, the opportunity the other Eastern Conference contenders had to bury the Cavaliers in the standings has likely dissipated.