WASHINGTON (AFP) – J.R. Smith, who helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2016 NBA title, will no longer play for the league-worst Cavs as they try to rebuild after losing superstar LeBron James.
The Cavaliers announced that Smith, a 33-year-old guard, ”will no longer be with the team as the organization works with JR and his representation regarding his future.”
The move comes hours after the release of an interview with Smith by The Athletic that featured him saying the Cavs, 2-13 overall and 0-8 on the road, were trying to lose.
”The organization wishes JR and his family well and appreciates and thanks him for his contributions in the community, to the team and his role in the 2016 NBA Championship,” the Cavaliers said in a statement.
The Cavaliers will try to trade Smith and he will work out away from the team until his future is settled. He won’t play or attend Cavs games, including Wednesday’s return by James to Cleveland with his new Los Angeles Lakers teammates.
Smith joined the Cavaliers in 2015 from the New York Knicks and was a key outside shooter in the team’s 2016 championship run, but is averaging a career-low 6.7 points a game this season.
Smith averaged 12.6 points a game in his first 14 NBA campaigns, which included stints at New Orleans and Denver before a 2011-12 season with China’s Zhejiang Golden Bulls and an NBA return with the Knicks.