The Cavaliers have a revamped starting lineup featuring Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
Unfortunately, that means that Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith are out of the lineup, and J.R. Smith says he’s “absolutely” frustrated that he lost his place in the starting lineup, via Cleveland.com:
"Was pretty much bracing myself for it," said Smith, who compared what happened with Wade to a situation he experienced with the New York Knicks.
"Was working hard all summer and then coming in and not even really having a chance to earn my spot, but it's all right," Smith said. "It is what it is."
Smith and Thompson reportedly discussed their recent demotions, and it wasn’t exactly a fun conversation, via Cleveland.com:
"We talked about it," Smith told cleveland.com. "It wasn't the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we'll get through it together."
Both players made it clear they didn’t want to cause any problems, and Thompson said that neither himself nor Smith were angry about the move.
This makes sense that they’re d be some natural professional frustration. These are proud, talented players who have started for a team that won an NBA championship. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it appears to be one that both players are willing to deal with in the interest of team chemistry.
Nobody should ask these players to be robots. They think they’re the best choices to start, and there are real cases to be made for each of them. As it stands, the Cavs will roll with the starting lineup they have.
Tyronn Lue hasn’t been one to be married to certain personnel groupings that don’t work, however, and he likely won’t be afraid to make a change if he needs to. Unless a change does come, Smith and Thompson will have to take a hit to their pride for the foreseeable future.