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Cavs news: J.R. Smith was ‘hurt’ by Tyronn Lue’s decision to start Dwyane Wade

J.R. Smith

Swingman J.R. Smith came clean during an episode of the Road Trippin’ podcast with teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye.

The three-point specialist told his fellow benchmates how he really felt about having to cede his starting job to newcomer Dwyane Wade, despite having taken the high road when asked by the media.

“Honestly, I was hurt, man,” Smith said on the podcast, according to ESPN’s Dave . “I was really emotionally drained at that point. I got wind of it that it was going to go down, but I didn’t know. I was told he’s going to be great for the second unit… It would be a great fit for the team, whatever, whatever. I’m like, ‘Awesome, let’s do it. One hundred percent. Out of all people, another person we’re going to just grab for damn-near nothing? For sure. Let’s do it.'”

Dwyane Wade JR SMith

Rabbani and Solimene Photography/ Getty Images

Smith and many others close to the situation observed Wade getting the majority of reps with the second unit right after he signed with the team, a sign that his spot was safe in the starting five, but as the days neared, head coach Tyronn Lue opted to put him in the starting lineup next to Derrick Rose, only days after deciding to slide Kevin Love to the center spot and relay Tristan Thompson to the bench.

“‘Well, we got to start him,'” Smith said, recalling a conversation with Lue. “‘Wait, what? Now we’re talking about two totally different things. Wait a minute.'”

Smith said all the right things during Media Day, diverting attention from himself and the situation.

“As long as we win, I don’t care,” he said when asked about Wade potentially affecting his role with the team.

The long-range specialist noted once the news started to kick in, they were surely hard to digest.

“My first initial thought, it wasn’t even to be selfish because that’s not just who I am as a player and as a person,” Smith said. “I’m a one-track mind. It’s what I’ve always been. That’s just me. So when you tell me something, I look at it as gold. So when you tell me something else, literally a couple of days later, it’s like, ah, now I got to change my mind frame from where I was at the last three years to flip it back to me being the sixth man — a successful three years, an extremely successful three years, I mean, we’ve been to three straight Finals.”

“So to revert back, and the first thing I thought about was New York, like, ‘Damn. I got to go back to being the sixth man and just scoring, scoring, scoring. Being aggressive.’ And at the same time, also, I’m looking at our lineup like, my first thought with the lineup was, ‘OK, but who is going to stretch the floor? OK, we got Jae [Crowder], who is a knock-down three-point shooter, Kev is a knock-down three-point shooter, but that’s two out of the five guys that’s got to be on the floor.”

While the reality of Wade emerging as the starter can be hard to wrap around, there was no way LeBron James would recruit one of his best friends and not assure him of a starting gig alongside him prior to signing with the team.

Smith will still have a valuable role and more freedom to take shots in a somewhat anemic bench that will need plenty of three-point shooting to help the starters keep afloat.

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