Shortly after losing his starting role to Dwyane Wade, it became obvious that JR Smith was frustrated.
"We talked about it," Smith told Joe Varton of Cleveland.com. "It wasn't the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we'll get through it together.”
"Was working hard all summer and then coming in and not even really having a chance to earn my spot, but it's all right," he said. "It is what it is.”
LeBron James weighed in on the situation as well, noting that Smith is a professional who will do what the team needs him to do.
"Obviously, he's a competitor, he wants to start," James said. "Everyone would love to start but J.R. is in a position where he feels he wants to do whatever is best for the team. So if it's playmaking if he's out there with the second unit -- you saw what he did tonight. If it's giving up his starting job to D Wade.”
On the latest episode of the “Road Trippin’” podcast with Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, Smith explained why he was so frustrated in greater depth, but also revealed something surprising about the process.
"Honestly, I was hurt, man," Smith said on the podcast on Friday, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. "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.’"
Therefore, it didn’t cross Smith’s mind that Wade might take his spot since he was told that the 12-time All-Star would be coming off the bench.
He was fed false information.
"'Well, we got to start him,'" Smith said. "'Wait, what? Now we're talking about two totally different things. Wait a minute.'"
He continued to expand on the fact that he was misled.
"My first initial thought, it wasn't even to be selfish because that's not just who I am as a player and as a person," Smith noted. "I'm a one-track mind. It's what I've always been. That's just me. So when you tell me something, I look at it as gold. So when you tell me something else, literally a couple of days later, it's like, ah, now I got to change my mind frame from where I was at the last three years to flip it back to me being the sixth man -- a successful three years, an extremely successful three years, I mean, we've been to three straight Finals.”
Smith has been through the same exact situation before, which makes the experience familiar for him.
"So to revert back, and the first thing I thought about was New York, like, 'Damn. I got to go back to being the sixth man and just scoring, scoring, scoring. Being aggressive.' And at the same time, also, I'm looking at our lineup like, my first thought with the lineup was, 'OK, but who is going to stretch the floor? OK, we got Jae [Crowder], who is a knock-down 3-point shooter, Kev [Kevin Love] is a knock-down 3-point shooter, but that's two out of the five guys that's got to be on the floor,” Smith explained.
While Smith has publicly stated that the team comes before his personal pleasure multiple times, it appears as though he’s stirring up a little bit of drama before the season tips off in Cleveland, as the loss of his starting role continues to bother him.