The Cavaliers told J.R. Smith and his representatives over the summer that it might be difficult to find playing time for him, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Rodney Hood is expected to start at shooting guard, with George Hill at the point. The Cavs want to give significant minutes to rookie Collin Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson excelled in a reserve role with the Lakers. That leaves Smith to compete with Kyle Korver and maybe David Nwaba for wing minutes.
Coach Tyronn Lue believes Smith can still contribute, but he’s now 33 and is coming off his two worst seasons. He lost 20 pounds during the offseason and can still help on defense, but Lue doesn’t like to use him and Korver together, which could mean one of them won’t get see many minutes.
There’s more this morning out of Cleveland, all courtesy of Vardon:
- Smith has taken over LeBron James‘ role as vocal leader in the locker room. After Saturday’s scrimmage, he was lecturing younger players for not showing up at the training facility early enough before practice and not returning text messages from the training staff.
- After being with three teams in four seasons, Sam Dekker may have found a home with the Cavs, Vardon writes in the same story. Cleveland picked up the 24-year-old from the Clippers this summer using a trade exception from the Kyrie Irving deal. Lue compares Dekker to Avery Bradley in how he moves without the ball and plans to use him as the primary back-up power forward. “I’m a Midwest guy, back in the Midwest,” Dekker said. “I’m just welcoming it, trying to stay in an open mind, keep learning, but really trying to be aggressive and show my true game and show who I am and I think that’s worked well so far for me.”
- Korver was used as a standstill shooter when James was running the offense, but this season he will resume the role he had with the Hawks, with multiple screens designed to set up open shots. Vardon notes that Cleveland has ranked third and second in made 3-pointers over the past two seasons, but won’t have James and Irving to break down defenses anymore. “They’re going to be different types of 3s,” Korver said. “Can we still be a good 3-point-shooting team? I think so. … We’re all going to be moving a lot more. It’s going to be harder to guard each of us.”