Dwyane Wade to Come off Bench for Cavaliers, JR Smith to Start

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2017

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 20:  Dwyane Wade #9 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center on October 20, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

After just three games, the Cleveland Cavaliers are shaking up their starting lineup.  

Coach Ty Lue told reporters Monday that JR Smith will return to the starting lineup in place of Dwyane Wade, who will now come off the bench. The move, according to Lue, came at Wade's behest.

"It's a class act for him to come to me," Lue told reporters.

The Cavaliers' new-look starting lineup has failed to coalesce through the first three games, with Wade being arguably the worst player in their entire rotation. He's averaging 5.7 points and 3.3 assists in 23.7 minutes per game, shooting 28 percent from the floor.

"I just decided earlier than later, just to get to a unit I will be more comfortable in—and can probably be better with this team in that lineup," Wade told reporters. "Why wait? Three games in, why wait?"

The move should help assuage any lingering disappointment from Smith, who had started in Cleveland across three consecutive Finals runs. Smith admitted he was "hurt" by the benching on Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye's Road Trippin' podcast.

"Honestly, I was hurt, man," Smith said (h/t Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com). "I was really emotionally drained at that point. I got wind of it that it was going to go down, but I didn't know. I was told he's going to be great for the second unit...It would be a great fit for the team, whatever, whatever. I'm like, 'Awesome, let's do it. One hundred percent. Out of all people, another person we're going to just grab for damn-near nothing? For sure. Let's do it.'"

Smith has also been struggling mightily in his new role, averaging 6.3 points and 2.7 rebounds on 33.3 percent shooting. 

The move might return the Cavaliers to a sense of normalcy amid a start that felt rockier than their 2-1 record. Wade and Derrick Rose made for an untenable pairing in the starting lineup, with their inability to stretch the floor cramping space and forcing more closely contested shots. The Cavs have been taking threes at a much lower rate than last season, thanks in large part to adding guys like Wade and Rose.

Giving Wade a chance to lead the second unit will probably put the ball in his hands more often, which will help erase some of the spacing issues he creates. 


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