J.R. Smith has been known to be unaware of what’s going on around him on the court — just ask the Knicks and the Cavaliers. Maybe Smith, like not knowing the score late in Game 1 of this year’s NBA Finals, may not have heard until recently he is no longer teammates with LeBron James.
The Cavaliers shooting guard, three weeks after James announced he would sign with the Lakers, finally said goodbye to the three-time MVP. Smith had been silent up until now, posting a photo of him and Tristan Thompson pulling James up from the court to his Instagram account with the words, “Thanks bro @kingjames.”
James responded by commenting: “My G! (Praying hands emoji). #FamilyTies (100 percent emoji).
It appears there are no hard feelings between the two after Smith’s absentmindedness led to the Cavaliers losing Game 1 of this year’s Finals to the eventual champion Warriors. Smith, who has played four seasons in Cleveland, failed to shoot after rebounding a missed free throw by George Hill with 4.7 seconds left. He proceeded to dribble the ball and the clock out instead.
Smith was a big reason the Cavaliers brought home their first NBA championship in 2016, when he averaged 11.5 points per game and shot 43 percent from 3-point range in the playoffs. James was a big proponent of bringing him back as a free agent and even put a little pressure on Cavaliers management at the time to get a deal done.
“Negotiations are always two sides, but J.R. did his part,” James told reporters in September 2016. “He showed up every day. Worked his ass off every day. Became a two-way player, a model citizen in Cleveland and he’s a fan favorite, obviously we all know that. … We just miss him. We miss having him around. He’s a big piece of our team and they just need to get it done.”
Smith remains a big piece in Cleveland on what’s left of a team that reached four straight Finals. He may have just realized he will do so without James.