Joining a new team via trade can be a difficult experience. Players don't only need to adjust their lives to a new city — they also need to get up to speed with a team's on-court systems and daily habits. When most of us change jobs, we at least have the opportunity to prepare over the course of a hiring process. A trade can strike at any time with little warning.
New Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith joined the team for Wednesday's home game against the Houston Rockets with an eye on improving the bench and adding some scoring punch while LeBron James continues to sit with a sore knee. The perpetually enigmatic and frustrating Smith has not been impressive since winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in the spring of 2013, but there is a chance that he can do some good for the Cavs.
At the same time, Smith has a whole lot to learn to get on the same page as his new teammates. Luckily, he had a whole plan for how to approach his first game in the Cleve:
JR Smith on how he'll play with the Cavs without knowing the playbook: "My motto is, 'When in doubt, shoot the ball'"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 7, 2015
And here's video of the moment (via @cjzero):
This quote might not mean much if it came from a normal three-point specialist, but J.R. Smith long ago lost any claim to such status. He is the definition of a chucker, a guy with little conscience or a standard conception of a good shot. When Smith is at his best, such designations don't really matter — he's talented enough to hit the toughest shots on the floor and can get as hot as anyone in the sport's recent history. Unfortunately, the idea that J.R. would shoot as a fallback option doesn't inspire much confidence that he can turn around his career with the Cavs. His tendency to rely on shooting alone caused a lot of problems for the Knicks.
Smith's line in Wednesday game suggests that he didn't have many doubts. He took only five field goals in his 18 minutes, well off his Knicks averages of 10.5 attempts in 25.8 minutes. But J.R. also failed to make anything, scoring zero points as the Cavs fell to the Rockets 105-93. At least he had some company, though — only Kyrie Irving performed especially well with 38 points on 15-of-26 shooting.
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