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Cavs coach Tyronn Lue wants to find place for J.R. Smith in rotation

Tyronn Lue, J.R. Smith

With the Cleveland Cavaliers ushering in a new era, the rise of a younger, more promising batch of stars is inevitable.

This may eat into the minutes of veterans like J.R. Smith. However, fortunately for Smith, his head coach Tyronn Lue appears to be on his side and is reportedly set on finding minutes for the 33-year-old swingman.

Joe Vardon wrote about the details of this dilemma for The Athletic. According to the Cavs insider, Smith should still carve out a place in the rotation, thanks mostly to the trust Lue has in him.

Lue would like to play Smith, I’ve been told. Smith is 33 and averaged 8.3 points last season. Really, the past two years have been among the worst of his 14-year career. But JR is a veteran, he lost 20 pounds during the offseason, he can be a good on-ball defender (last year notwithstanding), and Lue, being a players coach, is often partial to playing the guys who helped him (Lue) be successful. Smith was a key player on the 2016 championship team. He ran with the starters Saturday with Hood out.

However, Lue is reportedly being pressured to give minutes to the younger guys to help aid their development.

The front office wants Lue to play younger players. No one has specifically ruled out a spot for Smith, and once when I pressed general manager Koby Altman about it, he said ‘this is what camp is for.’ It’s just, well, Osman and Hood and Clarkson and Sexton are going to be on the floor. The Cavs even told Smith’s circle over the summer that playing time might be tight for him.

Vardon went on to explain exactly how Smith might be able to stay within the team’s rotation, as well as where his minutes may come from.

Lue could certainly bring Smith off the bench and play him alongside Korver like he did at times last year, but Lue said ‘I don’t like that as much.’ Lue always preferred to split Korver and Smith, but if Hood and Osman are the starters, either Korver and Smith will be playing together or, well, one won’t be playing much.

This is definitely going to be an interesting year for Smith, who is now entering the twilight of his career. Whether or not he will be part of the transformation of the Cavs now remains to be seen.

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