J.R. Smith was traded to the Cavaliers this week, in a deal that included Iman Shumpert and was done for no other reason than to clear Smith’s salary off of New York’s books.
Now that he’s gone, Smith has no trouble giving his thoughts on the way this season unfolded — specifically on how the Triangle Offense was difficult for players to embrace, and how it affected the mood around the team in the first part of the season.
Figuring out the triangle is no longer his problem and J.R. Smith couldn’t be happier.
“It’s almost too much thinking,’’ Smith told The Post Wednesday night before the slumping, LeBron James-less Cavaliers were rocked by the Rockets, 105-93, Smith’s first game as a Cavalier. He missed all five shots he took. …
“Everybody in the building was pretty much walking on eggshells so it was kind of hard to prosper in that way, especially when you are not accustomed to it,’’ Smith said. “But eventually I’m sure they’ll get it right.’’
There’s no reason for Smith to make things up here, and players obviously know what the vibe is around the team better than anyone else.
But in defense of Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, it was never about the results of this season.
Putting players through the motions of learning the Triangle Offense was a test of sorts, and one that Smith clearly did not pass. Jackson was looking for players who may be a long-term fit for the style of basketball he feels will yield the most positive results, and those who embrace and flourish in the offense he wants to run will be the ones who stick around.
That’s likely to be a fairly small number of those currently in place on the roster. But that was by design, and Smith’s honesty as to how the first part of the season played out only helps to hammer that point home — especially now that he’s gone.