This Cleveland Cavaliers’ season has been action-packed, but for the wrong reasons, and Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith are now in the middle of that.
It’s been reported that Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman told J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver that they’ll be out of the team’s rotation last week. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, past head coach Tyronn Lue (who was fired Sunday morning, per Charania and The Athletic’s Joe Vardon), Altman and owner Dan Gilbert weren’t on the same page when it came to playing veterans versus developing young players (h/t (h/t Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway).
Lue was fired after Cleveland’s 0-6 start, and the reported information from Charania probably had a ton to do with it. Unfortunately, the problem is that the Cavs have been better, in large part, when Korver is playing significant minutes, and he adds a bunch of spacing for them on the floor for players such as Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman.
In Cleveland’s 110-103 loss to the Detroit Pistons last Thursday, Korver lit it up, with 21 points on seven-of-10 shooting and 16 points in the fourth quarter alone. He did some good things in Cleveland’s last game against the Indiana Pacers, and he’ll always give the Cavs maximum effort on both ends, and has developed some nice rapport with Larry Nance Jr. with both’s passing acumen.
He’s a player that Cleveland should continue to play about 12-15 minutes per game, because he does open up the floor, and with Kevin Love potentially missing over a month due to a toe injury (per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski), his on-floor value will be needed even more.
Plus, with Korver being a consistent floor-spacer, showcasing him a bit more could drive up his trade value for contending teams, such as the Philadelphia 76ers, who could use a sniper from three-point range. Korver is fourth all-time in threes made, for the record.
In terms of Smith, well, that shipped has probably sailed at this point. He has had two down seasons in a row, and has had some unfortunate injury trouble in that time, too.
On social media, he’s also been active in his, well, displeasure in regards to the Cavs’ handling of him and how they’ve wanted to go in the younger direction when it comes to guards.
He tweeted this, and I would assume it’s regarding what Altman said with him being one of the guys getting the axe in Cleveland’s rotation.
Nonetheless, like Korver, he would get on the floor last week, and Smith appears to not be pleased with Lue’s firing. He posted this on Instagram recently, and it’s hard to believe Smith (among others potentially) wouldn’t be wanting out of Cleveland with how the head coaching situation was handled with Lue getting fired after just six games.
Smith won a championship with Lue in 2016, and it’s understandable for him to be emotional with this Lue news.
I would think he doesn’t play them too much, and mostly rolls with George Hill, Rodney Hood, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson and David Nwaba in the backcourt. Do Smith and Korver maybe play the 3 at times? I would think so, but not too often, given their age on the perimeter on defense.
This situation is not close to being resolved, and it makes the trading of Korver and Smith even more likely, either by this year’s trade deadline or after the season concludes.
Neither have full guarantees on their contracts in 2019-20, as the aforementioned Conway highlighted, making them easier to move.