The Cavaliers are still trying to figure things out, and head coach Tyronn Lue continues to tinker with the lineup. J.R. Smith's role has been in flux this season. He came off the bench to start the season, with newly acquired Dwyane Wade entering the starting lineup. Then, after it became abundantly clear J.R. was salty about that move, he was re-inserted into the starting lineup.
Cavs HC Ty Lue says Dwayne Wade came to him and said he wants to come off the bench - J.R. Smith is back in the starting 5. (via @mcten)— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) October 23, 2017
In Tuesday's game against the Suns, though—which the Cavs unsurprisingly won 129-107—J.R. found himself back on the bench. Kyle Korver started in his place. It was the first time J.R. had played in a game and not started since Oct. 21.
J.R. Smith is out of the Cavs' starting lineup for the foreseeable future. Kyle Korver will start in his place tonight because Rodney Hood (back) is still out. Ty Lue said Hood will start when he's healthy.— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydNBA) March 14, 2018
Before Tuesday's game, J.R. told ESPN that he and Lue didn't talk about the move. That's because Lue chose to text Smith about it rather than bringing him in to talk about it.
"We didn't talk," Smith told ESPN. "He sent me a text, and I told him, 'No problem.' I didn't know that it was a 'talk.'"
J.R. didn't seem too heartbroken about it.
"That's all right, though," Smith said. "I'm not upset about it. I just wish there would have been more dialogue, I guess."
You'd expect news like that to be delivered in person, though, right? NBA reporters and fans ripped Ty Lue for alerting Smith of his benching via text message.
I'm still stunned that Ty Lue told JR Smith about his new role via text. Think that's poor communication from a head coach.— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) March 14, 2018
J.R. Smith: I mean yeah he texted me about it, but I wish there was more dialogue ...— Steven R. Walker (@Steve_R_Walker) March 14, 2018
Ty Lue: pic.twitter.com/QT7WjRQoT3
Lue sending JR a text about benching him is why the Cavs are struggling....the coach they have is trash and should have been dumped when everybody else got dumped— TenthOfAugust (@XOATOA) March 14, 2018
A lot of people piling on JR but Lue telling him he’s benched via text message is gutless. Terrible leadership.— A.J. (@TheSmithuation_) March 14, 2018
I guess Lue text JR instead of calling him to the office so he doesn't get soup thrown on him— Est. 1984 (@Est1984in216) March 14, 2018
J.R. is averaging 8.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 36.4 percent from deep. His numbers have dipped as he's struggled to find a rhythm this season.