JR Smith was ‘hurt’ by benching, was told Dwyane Wade would back him up
Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith reaffirmed that being benched in favor of Dwyane Wade “hurt” — particularly after he was initially told that Wade would be the one backing him up.
Appearing on Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye’s “Road Trippin'” podcast, Smith revealed that he had initially been led to believe Wade was being acquired for the second unit before coach Tyronn Lue told him the news.
“Honestly, I was hurt, man,” Smith said, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “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.’
“‘Well, we got to start him.’ ‘Wait, what? Now we’re talking about two totally different things. Wait a minute.'”
Smith admitted that the u-turn threw him off, and he had to readjust his thinking.
“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 3-point shooter, Kev [Kevin Love] is a knock-down 3-point shooter, but that’s two out of the five guys that’s got to be on the floor.”
Smith has made no secret of the fact that he was not happy to be benched in favor of Wade. If he was initially told that wouldn’t happen, you can really understand why.