Published On: Wed, Oct 11th, 2017

J.R. Smith 'absolutely' frustrated to lose starting spot

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

J.R. Smith isn’t about to “get into a blank-measuring contest” with Dwyane Wade, but he’s not exactly thrilled about being benched.

Smith told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that he is “absolutely” frustrated that he lost his starting spot to the 35-year-old, especially since Smith didn’t have a say in the matter or get a chance to win the role with his performance.

“We talked about it,” Smith said. “It wasn’t the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we’ll get through it together. …

“Was working hard all summer and then coming in and not even really having a chance to earn my spot, but it’s all right. It is what it is.”

As with Kevin Love‘s new role, it wasn’t head coach Tyronn Lue who broke the news, but rather LeBron James that told Smith. King James has been close with Wade since way before their time together in South Beach, and James had Smith prepped for a bench role in the likely event that Wade escaped Chicago to rejoin his former teammate.

Smith told Vardon he “kind of knew it” and James said he’d given Smith the news “way before,” which suggested that Lue was going to make the switch.

The former Sixth Man of the Year winner saw the silver lining in being relegated back to the bench.

“I actually like playing on the second unit better, I’m more of a playmaker and distributor and I handle the ball a little bit more instead of just running to the corner,” Smith said.

Although Wade is by far the more accomplished player, it’s not a given that he would be an improvement over Smith in terms of fit. For one, Smith is an elite 3-point shooter that can be effective playing away from the ball – an important skill given how much James holds it.

Then again, Wade likely wouldn’t have accepted the league minimum and a hefty discount on his Bulls buyout just to come off the bench.



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