If the Cleveland Cavaliers want to return to their fourth straight NBA Finals and even have a shot at winning their second title in three years, it seems as though they will have to make a number of different changes to their roster in order to do so. With the trade deadline looming, first-year general manager Koby Altman doesn’t have much time to improve the team.
Besides the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick that the Cavs have the rights to, trade assets for the wine and gold that would “wow” another team are few and far between. With that said, it seems as though they will still try and do whatever they can to improve the team. Prior to Saturday night’s embarrassing, a lopsided loss to the Houston Rockets at The Q, cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto reported that the Cavs are shopping starting shooting guard JR Smith and he has been “offered to various teams.”
In the midst of his worst season since 2005-06, the 32-year-old has been unable to find his shot from beyond the arc, the most important part of his game for the Cavs. Smith is averaging just 7.9 points and two rebounds in 29.7 minutes per game (50 games, 47 starts) while shooting 38 percent from the field and 35 percent from long distance. This comes just one season after he averaged just 8.6 points per game while shooting 35 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three-point range.
A key part of the Cavs’ championship season in 2015-16,1 Smith hasn’t been the same since winning his first championship, whether it’s in terms of his shooting or defense.
The veteran guard hasn’t been able to find his shot, but his defense has also taken a hit over the years as well. let’s take a look at his ratings since he came to Cleveland:
- 2014-15: 107.8 offensive rating, 105.1 defensive rating (2.7 net rating)
- 2015-16: 110.5 offensive rating, 104.4 defensive rating (6.1 net rating)
- 2016-17: 111.4 offensive rating, 108.1 defensive rating (3.3 net rating)
- 2017-18: 109.8 offensive rating, 112.1 defensive rating (-2.3 net rating)
Due to the guard’s inability to find his shot and his defensive struggles that have continued to be an issue, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Cavs are shopping him. He still has two full seasons remaining on his four-year, $57 million deal that he signed with the wine and gold that will run through 2020. With that said, just $3.87 million of his $15.68 million that he is owed in 2019-20 is guaranteed.2
Though a fan favorite in Cleveland, with his struggles over the last 15 months on the court, it may be time to ship Smith away for a player who will not only bring better shooting to the Cavs, but one that will be better defensively as well. If he is traded, however, Swish will be missed in Cleveland.