J.R. Smith started at shooting guard for the Cavaliers as they reached three straight NBA Finals and won a title, fitting smoothly into his 3-and-D role.
In a related move, the Cavs will also start Kevin Love at center and move Tristan Thompson to the bench. Love and Jae Crowder starting allows the Cavaliers to surround LeBron James with outside shooting that Wade and Derrick Rose don’t provide.
J.R. Smith said “absolutely” he is frustrated that he lost his place in the Cavaliers’ starting lineup to Dwyane Wade, though neither he nor Tristan Thompson aim to make trouble now that they’re both coming off the bench.
“We talked about it,” Smith told cleveland.com. “It wasn’t the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we’ll get through it together.”
Thompson said he and Smith wanted “everybody to know” they weren’t “upset or angry”
This is exactly the response you want to see. Smith doesn’t have to be happy about being demoted. Someone competitive enough to thrive in the NBA isn’t conditioned to take this passively. But the Cavs don’t want him sulking and creating problems, either.
It seems Smith is threading the needle with the ideal way to respond.