The Cleveland Cavaliers have an absolutely abysmal record right now–the worst in the league–at 2-13. Their poor performance has seemingly led to the firing of head coach Tyronn Lue at the beginning of the season and to speculation about just how good LeBron James had to be to get this team to The Finals last year.
JR Smith isn’t the only veteran frustrated with the team’s apparent bait-and-switch, but he may be the loudest one.
“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” he told The Athletic. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”
JR is at a bit of an impasse in his first season post-LeBron. He’s requested a trade twice but refuses to accept a buyout. So he’s still in Cleveland, and he’s finding it harder and harder to stay quiet about his dissatisfaction with that fact. He’s openly said that, if the Cavs are truly tanking, he’s not interested in being a part of the team.
George Hill Chimes In
Teammate George Hill’s comments echo Smith’s. He says that he believes the Cavs had always planned on tanking as a rebuilding strategy, but they led the team’s veterans to believe the opposite as a way of keeping them around.
“I think it recalibrated before Game 1 was even played,” Hill said. “In the summer, it felt like politically you have to say we can still do these things because you want everyone to buy in to being here. Once everybody is here, I don’t know. The directions change.”
Other veterans caught in the sinking ship are sharpshooter Kyle Korver and All-Star center Kevin Love, both of whom were given promises that have yet to be fulfilled.