“Get him here and I’ll take care of it.”
According to LeBron James, this is what he said to the Cleveland Cavaliers front office when told of a possible mid-season trade for J.R. Smith. The Cavs were interested in wing defender Iman Shumpert, but the New York Knicks insisted Smith be involved in the deal. The Knicks wanted to rid themselves of a player who both cost a lot on the salary cap and had proven to be a problem child.
Other teams would’ve balked at such a deal. Smith could definitely be a difference-maker if he was shooting well, but he also had a track record of being a headache for coaches and management. However, Cleveland – thanks to a winter slump – was desperate. After getting the aforementioned response from James, the Cavs pulled the trigger.
A lot has happened for Cleveland between the night this deal was made and last night’s Game 1 Eastern Conference Finals victory over the Atlanta Hawks. One thing is clear, though: Smith, deemed a wild card from the moment he came aboard, has been a revelation.