Playing with LeBron James is not like playing with other stars. J.R. Smith talked about it as a blessing and a curse — there’s a new level of pressure. Players get an opportunity to play with one of the All-Time greats, but the scrutiny and blame that comes with it are at a new level.
Rodney Hood has struggled to adjust to that. He does not have a connection with LeBron on the court, Hood rarely gets passes from LeBron (who dominates the ball on this team), and with that his role has shrunk. Hood was traded from the Jazz — where he was a featured scorer — to Cleveland mid-season, and struggled with the adjustment.
“This is something different. It has been tough,” Hood said. “The basketball stuff has been the easiest part. The stuff that comes out of it, you lose a game and everyone talks about it on TV the next day. They may say some things that you may not agree with. If you win a game, you’re supposed to. Those kind of things are something I kind of got on a much smaller scale and dealt with at Duke.
“You lose a game and you feel like the world is coming down. You win, it’s like, you’re supposed to win. It’s still a struggle to me to adapt to that….
“I was playing at such a high clip when I got traded,” Hood said. “And then, this is my first time having DNPs in life. The first time shooting two times or five times in a game. Having to adjust is the toughest part. It’s a part of my growth. I’m not going to always be in this state.”
Hood will be in a different state next season, although the situation may not be what he hopes.
More than just on-the-court concerns, this trade and Hood’s struggles have cost him millions of dollars. Hood is a restricted free agent this summer, one who was averaging 16.8 points per game in Utah but didn’t play in Game 1 of the Finals for Cleveland. Hood’s struggles adapting are going to give teams pause when it comes time to offering him a contract, teams are going to wonder how and if he can fit in with them.
It’s going to be an interesting summer for Hood.