Without even writing a single word, Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith reinforced the current status of the team by using social media to retweet a simple fact. That relates to the embarrassment of entering the team’s Tuesday night matchup in Atlanta as the only winless team in the NBA.
Once the Oklahoma City Thunder won their first game of the season on Sunday night, the Cavaliers were relegated to that dubious category. That’s a steep fall for a team that less than five months ago was competing in the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season.
However, as Fox Sports’ Nick Wright pointed out, the fact that LeBron James is no longer a member of the Cavaliers is the chief reason for the collapse. The future Hall of Famer left in free agency in July to join the Los Angeles Lakers, with the Cavaliers beginning what was supposed to be a modest rebuilding effort.
The problem for the Cavaliers is that the veterans that remained with the team have yet to mesh with the newcomers that have been added. The end result is poor defense and a lack of communication, factors that have resulted in an 0-6 start and the firing of head coach Tyronn Lue.
The 33-year-old Smith was hoping to jumpstart his career this season after a pair of sub-par campaigns. However, the dismissal of Lue means that the veteran’s playing time will be reduced as the team seeks to give those younger players a chance to develop.
If that slow start wasn’t bad enough, news came on Monday that the team’s leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Love is likely to miss at least a month of additional action. That seemingly makes it unlikely that things will change in the near future, which could lead to a full-scale overhaul of the Cavs’ roster by the time of the February trading deadline.
The Cavaliers would most likely want to deal Smith as soon as possible, but his contract that will pay him $14.7 million this season is a likely drawback. He’s also due close to $15.7 million next year, though only $3.87 million of that is reportedly guaranteed.