The season isn’t even a week old, but that isn’t stopping the Cleveland Cavaliers from making a change to their starting lineup. J.R. Smith will takeover for Dwyane Wade as the team’s starting shooting guard moving forward, after a slow and awkward start from the former star.
Wade acknowledged the need for change at practice on Monday. Stating that there was no sense in waiting for a change when things clearly weren’t working.
"I just decided, earlier than later, just to get to the unit where I'd be more comfortable in and can probably better with this team in that lineup," Wade said, per cleveland.com. "Why wait? Three games in, why wait? Wanted to get in there with those guys."
If Wade was promised a starting role during recruitment, a change in his role would likely need to be a decision that comes from him.
Coming off the bench, Wade will be able to have the ball in his hands and play the up-tempo style that the bench has adopted. Surrounded by players that like to run the floor, run the pick and roll, and crash the glass, Wade will likely be in a much better position to make an impact.
One advantage of bringing in a player like Wade, is that he provides experience and basketball IQ. It didn’t take him long to recognize that things weren’t working out and that a change needed to be made. Five days into the season, Wade recognized that his talents were needed in a different area and initiated the change that put the team’s needs ahead of his own.
For all the doubt that has been directed towards Tyronn Lue early this season, it appears as though this situation was managed perfectly. Wade was provided the opportunity to make it work with the starters, a role he felt the most comfortable with. But after seeing the struggles first-hand, Lue was able to have a discussion with Wade and the two were able to come to an agreement on a change of role. When you’re dealing with proud players that are learning to adjust, some give and take is needed to reduce the potential for friction in the locker room.