J.R. Smith

Central Notes: Bulls, Pistons, Smith

The Bulls finally embraced a rebuild this offseason so there will be no shortage of attention paid to how they manage each and every asset from this point forward. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the club will be particularly patient with injuries to key young players considering that now more than ever the club can afford to lose ball games.

Between the lingering effects of Zach LaVine‘s 2016/17 ACL injury and preseason setbacks to both Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, the new look Bulls are awfully banged up ahead of the 2017 season opener and may not even see the court together until as late as December.

I think it’s just about being patient,” Dunn, acquired in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler from the Bulls to Minnesota, said. “Lauri, he was in Finland, so there was a lot of strain on his back from all the games they played [in the EuroBasket tournament]. Zach, with his injury, you try to take it slow with him because he’s a big piece to this team. And me, I’m just slowly trying to get back. So it’s just a slow thing.

To that effect, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg has said that his starting lineup when the season begins on Tuesday will consist of Jerian Grant, Justin Holiday, Nikola Mirotic, Paul Zipser and Robin Lopez.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • When Derrick Rose signed a minimum contract with the Cavaliers, he did so as a bet on himself. “I get a chance to reintroduce myself back to the league. I get to bet on myself. That was one of the reasons I came here, I get to bet on myself. And I’m from Chicago, I’ve got that hustling side; it’s in me, man,” he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • While Pistons projects Luke Kennard and Henry Ellenson figure to make an impact on the team eventually, they’ll have to beat out defensive-minded veterans Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver for minutes, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site writes. Both Tolliver and Bullock provide plenty of intangible skill that make life easier for the second unit.
  • The announcement that Dwyane Wade would be the Cavaliers‘ starting shooting guard didn’t go over well with J.R. Smith. “We talked about it,” Smith told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “It wasn’t the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we’ll get through it together.

Cavs Notes: Wade, J.R. Smith, Frye, Shumpert

Newest Cavalier Dwyane Wade will open the 2017/18 season in the team’s starting lineup, head coach Tyronn Lue confirmed today. As Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details, J.R. Smith will come off the bench with Wade taking over as the starting shooting guard, and Lue said today that Smith handled the news well.

“He was fine,” Lue said. “It’s tough, you’ve been in position where you went to three straight Finals and you’ve been the starting two guard. But like I said, it’s about sacrifice if you want to win. J.R. was great about it. Just knows he has to have a different role right now so we’ll see how it works.”

Although Derrick Rose will join Wade in the starting lineup, Lue said today that Rose will head to the bench early in games and then return to run the second-team offense. In that scenario, the former MVP would likely lead a lineup that features Smith, Kyle Korver, and Jeff Green, though we’ll see what adjustments the team makes when the season officially gets underway.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • One player who likely won’t see many minutes in the Cavs’ rotation – barring injuries – is Channing Frye, Vardon writes in a separate piece. Lue told Frye that he probably won’t play a whole lot this season, and the head coach said the veteran forward responded admirably. “That’s the type of vet you want around,” Lue said. “Unbelievable character guy. He understands it’s a long season. There’s going to be opportunities.”
  • Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net hears that the Cavs already know which player with a guaranteed salary they’ll waive, assuming they can’t trade anyone. The Cavs haven’t identified that player, of course, but Richard Jefferson has been the candidate mentioned most frequently. Cleveland’s initial cuts may begin on Tuesday, Amico adds.
  • According to Amico, the Cavaliers continue to explore possible trades involving Iman Shumpert, but they’ve had trouble finding a taker all offseason, and Shumpert’s foot injury isn’t helping matters.
  • We rounded up a few Cavs notes on Sunday as well, including news on Isaiah Thomas‘ change in representation.

Central Notes: James, Smith, LaVine, Bulls

LeBron James future in Cleveland is unclear beyond the upcoming season but he said to reporters during Monday’s media day that his stated intentions to finish his career with the Cavs haven’t changed, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes.

James said he will honor his current deal with the Cavaliers as he attempts to reach the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive season. James will field questions about his future for the rest of the season but he said that he will handle his fourth free agency next summer.

“And if you guys know me, I don’t know if you know me as much, but I’ve always handled it in the most businesslike way,” James said. “And I will do that with my team, and we’ll handle that in the summertime, as we always have.”

The Cavaliers enter 2017/18 with a restructured roster that no longer has Kyrie Irving but does feature recently signed Dwyane Wade, former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, and last season’s Eastern Conference scoring leader Isaiah ThomasBarring a collapse the Cavaliers are favorites to return to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season.

Read up on other news surrounding the Central Division:

Central Notes: Bulls, Smith, Johnson

The Bulls have fully embraced a rebuild and it’s centered around Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman declared as much at media day, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

We’re in a position now where we have supportive ownership, we’ve defined our direction and we’re looking forward,” Paxson said. “That’s all Gar and I can do every day.

The three players mentioned were all acquired a draft day deal between the Bulls and Timberwolves that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. The change of course to embrace a rebuild came after a season of trade rumors and speculation that the organization should dismantle its core (among other things).

I do think we can win our fans’ trust back by showing them we can put a group of young players out there who care and show them there’s promise ahead,” Paxson said.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • For now at least, J.R. Smith is the starting shooting guard on the Cavaliers, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. “I’m not going to sit here and get into a ‘blank’ measuring contest with Dwyane Wade,” Smith said. “I’m not going to win that. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to continue to work hard for our team and however they choose to do it, that’s who it’s going to be.”
  • Citing mental maturation and a commitment to improving, Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy is optimistic about third-year forward Stanley Johnson‘s progress, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site writes. Van Gundy also praised rookie Luke Kennard‘s performance at training camp thus far.
  • There’s a case to be made for Cavaliers forward LeBron James winning the MVP this season. Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes that the 15-year veteran is coming off one of the best offseasons he’s had since he came into the league.


Trade Rumors: Butler, Rubio, Cavaliers

Jimmy Butler continues to be very much in demand, according to a post from Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Executives from other teams believe the Timberwolves are offering the seventh pick in tonight’s draft as part of a package to get the Bulls to re-open trade talks. Minnesota coach/executive Tom Thibodeau coached Butler in Chicago and is eager for a reunion. The Cavaliers made an unsuccessful offer for Butler, and sources relayed to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that Butler’s preference is to stay with the Bulls. The Timberwolves are also talking to the Pacers about Paul George, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets.

There are more trade rumors as the draft draws nearer:

  • The Wolves are once again trying to find takers for Ricky Rubio, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Earlier reports identified the Mavericks and Knicks as teams that might have interest in the sixth-year point guard, who still has two seasons and more than $29MM left on his contract.
  • The Cavaliers are in a “holding pattern” as they await progress on several proposed trades, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops (Twitter link). Cleveland’s problem is a shortage of tradable assets and what insiders are describing as a “flooded market” (Twitter link).
  • Cleveland is finding that no one wants to take on the hefty contracts of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith or Tristan Thompson, Amico adds (Twitter link). Shumpert has two years left on his deal at a combined $21.3MM. Smith re-signed last summer and is owed more than $44MM over the next three seasons. Thompson has three years remaining at more than $52.4MM.

J.R. Smith: Carmelo Anthony’s Treatment ‘Unfair And Unjust’

With Knicks president Phil Jackson stating his preference for Carmelo Anthony to leave New York, the 1o-time All-Star has received support from Knicks legends, former and current teammates, and the NBPA. Anthony’s former Knicks teammate and current Cavaliers sharpshooter, J.R. Smith, can be added to the list of supporters.

Smith teamed with Anthony for parts of three seasons before he was traded to Cleveland along with Iman Shumpert in 2014. Speaking at a media session before Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, Smith told Newsday’s Greg Logan that Anthony’s treatment has been poor.

“I haven’t spoken to [Anthony] on the topic, but I’m sure he does feel some type of way about how he’s being treated,” Smith said. “It’s really unfair and unjust. But I’m not on that team and I’m not in that situation, so I really don’t want to speak too much on it. I’ve got bigger things going on in the NBA Finals. But I hope for the best for him. Melo is a very tough guy, and he’ll figure it out.”

Anthony, who just turned 33 years old, averaged 22.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 74 games during the regular season as the Knicks posted a losing record and missed the playoffs a fourth straight season. Jackson initially stated his preference for Anthony to waive his no-trade clause at a press conference in mid-April.

“We’ve not been able to win with [Anthony] on the court at this time,” Jackson said. “I think the direction with our team is that he’s a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.”

Anthony has not publicly commented on his intentions as the offseason approaches but the veteran will be a key player to watch as a trade candidate this summer.

Shumpert, Smith: Carmelo Wants To Stay In New York

Trading Carmelo Anthony out of New York may not be as easy as team president Phil Jackson is hoping, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, two of Anthony’s friends and former teammates, believe he wants to remain with the Knicks and will use his no-trade clause to veto any deal.

“Sometimes you feel like it’s just unfinished business, and I feel like that’s what it is with Melo,” Shumpert said, referring to the Knicks’ 31-51 season. “He don’t want to leave on that note.”

Smith noted how hard Anthony worked to get to New York, forcing the Nuggets’ hands in a 2011 deal so he could be part of the league’s biggest market.

“He does want to stay in New York. He made the effort to get to New York,” Smith said. “Granted, it hasn’t gone as well as he hoped it would. But I’m sure that’s where he wants to be.”

Anthony will make more than $26.2MM next season and has an early termination option for his nearly $28MM salary in 2018/19. Jackson would like to get those figures off the Knicks’ salary cap, and contacted the Clippers, Cavaliers and Celtics before February’s deadline in an attempt to work out a trade.

Any team that does deal for Anthony would have to absorb his 15% trade kicker, which would bring his total cap hit to about $30MM.Anthony hasn’t made any public appearances since the season ended, Bondy notes, apart from a single workout session. He has also stopped posting on social media since mid-April.

While Anthony has chosen silence, Jackson has remained persistent about his desire to find a taker for his star. He began with a postseason press conference in which he stated that Anthony would be “better off somewhere else,” then repeated those sentiments to the media at the draft combine.

“I don’t think [Jackson] should’ve been so vocal about [wanting to trade Anthony],” Shumpert said. “That’s just me. I think a lot of stuff is better if everybody just assumes what’s going on and they don’t really know what’s going on. I didn’t like that it was publicized, but what am I going to do? He said some stuff about me too.

“I know it’s not going to bother Melo’s jumpshot next season. Melo is going to continue to work and get better, and continue to try to win. That’s all he can do.”

Cavalier Notes: Jones, Irving, LeBron

Discontent marinates within the Cavaliers‘ locker room and veteran James Jones recently spoke to the team to try to sort out the issues, sources tell Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. After the team’s loss to the Spurs, Jones rhetorically asked players what they wanted out of the season. Vardon adds that neither Kyrie Irving nor LeBron James addressed the team, but a source told the scribe that the losing and travel have “frayed nerves.”

Cleveland owns a record of 6-9 during the month of March and the team has the eighth worst Plus/Minus over that stretch, as I recently mentioned.

Here’s more from The Land:

  • Irving holds himself accountable for the Cavaliers‘ struggles, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com writes. “I had to face it, had to face the music,” Irving said of his performance against the Spurs earlier in the week. “I think we all had to do it. But me more importantly, I had to look in the mirror and just wasn’t doing enough. I need to demand more out of myself and do it at a high level.”
  • Irving and James had an extended and emotional conversation after the Spurs loss, Shelburne adds in the same piece. Irving declines to comment on the nature of the meeting, calling it “private.”
  • Irving believes getting J.R. Smith and Kevin Love back up to speed has been problematic, but the Olympian said it’s his job to help them, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays. “I have to do my best as a point guard to integrate J.R. and K-Love and get our starting five back to having the continuity,” Irving said. “It hasn’t been perfect, to say the least. There’s definitely been some ups and downs and disagreements. But as adults and professionals we just have to figure it out.”
  • The Cavaliers have nine games left in the season, including tonight’s tilt with the Bulls, and coach Tyronn Lue feels it’s enough time to right the ship, Fedor adds in the same piece. “I feel like we can get it right,” Lue said. “We’re right anyway. We’re still right there.

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, Sanders, J.R. Smith

Coach Tyronn Lue is concerned about Tristan Thompson‘s playing time, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, but the Cavaliers have few other options at center. Thompson is playing 30 minutes per night, his highest total in three years, and Lue is concerned that he might get worn down by playoff time. “We just have to try to figure out ways to get him off the floor like last night, getting his minutes down,” Lue said Saturday. “Then getting him off the floor tonight trying to do the same thing. He’s the only center we have. He has to play right now.” The Cavs thought they solved that problem when they signed Andrew Bogut last month, but a broken leg in his first game took him out of the equation.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Free agent center Larry Sanders, who was signed as a replacement for Bogut, appears far away from being ready to help, Fedor notes in the same piece. Sanders has seen most of his action in the D-League since joining the Cavs March 13th. He has played just two minutes in two games at the NBA level. “Well, we have to try to get him in some better shape. Right now his timing and shape is not good,” Lue said. “That’s why he’s been in the D-League playing and trying to get ready. The guys in the D-League say he’s been great. He’s just trying to work and trying to get to that point.”
  • Lue said J.R. Smith is going through “training camp” after missing a major part of the season with a fractured right thumb, Fedor relays in a separate piece. Smith, who has shot just 31% from the field in the 10 games since his return, was moved back into the starting lineup Wednesday. “It’s like preseason for him,” Lue said. “Just trying to get these games under his belt to get his rhythm, get his timing, get his legs defensively and lock into what we’re doing. When you miss training camp early in the season and then you get hurt early in the season it’s been tough on him. He’s got to work his way through it and I know he will.”
  • Starting Smith has weakened the team’s defense, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic (subscription site). When Iman Shumpert or DeAndre Liggins started, they defended opposing point guards. Since the change, that task has fallen to Kyrie Irving, and the Cavs surrendered a combined 65 points to Kemba Walker and John Wall in back-to-back games.

Central Notes: Felder, James, Pistons, Williams

Kay Felder made an impact in his most recent D-League assignment; scoring 26 points in a match-up with the Maine Red Claws. The 5’9″ Felder raised eyebrows, however, with his decision to dunk at the conclusion of a 110-99 win, when the away team had already conceded the loss. NBA vet Jordan Mickey didn’t appreciate the gesture:

“I take pride in being a professional and not doing anything like that at the end of a game,” Mickey told Glenn Jordan of Amico Hoops. “No NBA team I know of would do that. I know the Celtics wouldn’t do it for sure and I doubt the Cavaliers would do something like that. Guys know better than to do stuff like that. It is what it is, I’ll keep that in the back of my mind if we happen to play these guys again.”

Still riding high from his 26-point showing, Felder praised the Cavs for giving him an opportunity to receive minutes with the Canton Charge.

“I think the Cavs are doing a great job of bringing me down, calling me up, letting me see what Kyrie (Irving) or LeBron (James) is doing and bringing it down here and helping these guys out as well,” Felder said. “It’s not just for me. I can also help these guys as well with what I see up there.”

More from around the Central…

  • Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon-Journal was critical of the Cavs‘ defensive effort in a loss to Denver on Wednesday. Ridenour understands that the 32-year-old James needs to conserve energy as the postseason approaches, but pointed out a second quarter sequence in which James stayed downcourt to protest a no-call. LeBron finished the game with a -30 rating, his second-worst plus-minus of the season.
  • The Pistons‘ late-season swoon has resulted from “a complicated mosaic of factors,” Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. Specifically, Beard points out poor defense, inconsistencies at point guard, a lack of leadership, and slow starts to must-win games. [Stan] Van Gundy does much of the talking but the leadership mantle needs to come from the locker room,” Beard writes. “After Wednesday’s loss, the players were saying all the right things about playing better in the last 10 games, but the next step is turning that talk into action — and more importantly, victories.”
  • Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com addressed Derrick Williams‘ recent lack of playing time in his latest mailbag. Despite a stellar plus-minus when Williams and James are each on the court, Tyronn Lue has gone with J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver over Williams in the second unit. Vardon points out that if Williams is getting minutes in the postseason, either Iman Shumpert or Richard Jefferson would have to be benched; that’s a move he doesn’t see Lue pulling off.
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