INDEPENDENCE, OHIO - As far as J.R. Smith knows, he's still the Cleveland Cavaliers' starting shooting guard.
But even if he isn't, the former Sixth Man of the Year is just fine returning to a reserve role following the Cavs' acquisition of Dwyane Wade earlier this week.
"That's coach's decision," Smith said following the team's practice on Thursday. "If anything it makes us stronger, whether if I come off the bench or if [Wade] comes off the bench, however it works. I don't really focus on that, honestly."
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said on Thursday the team has a plan in place when it comes to its starting lineup -- although he declined to divulge what it was. At Cavs media day on Monday, Lue did reveal that free agent signee Derrick Rose will start at point guard while Isaiah Thomas continues to rehabilitate his injured hip.
That, in and of itself, could create a potential complication with starting Wade. Although both players are talented playmakers, neither Wade nor Rose are renown three-point shooters. A starting lineup featuring Rose, Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson would leave James and Love as the only players who shot above 35 percent from long-distance last season.
Smith, meanwhile, is an accomplished marksman, boasting a career 37.4 three-point shooting percentage. Moreover, he's one of the Cavs' most consistent perimeter defenders -- although Smith was hardly comfortable with the idea of comparing his resume to that of Wade's.
“I’m not going to get into a 'blank' measuring contest with Dwyane Wade," Smith said of the 12-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer. "I’m not gonna win that."
Even so, Smith still appears to be a member of the team's starting lineup -- although Wade has just one practice under his belt after signing with the Cavs on Wednesday. The versatility on the Cleveland roster also makes it difficult to project potential roles for each player, with Lue even mentioning that Wade played some point guard in his debut practice.
The first look at the Cavs' starting lineup could come on Monday when the team hosts its annual Wine & Gold Scrimmage. But regardless of whether he maintains his starting role between now and Cleveland's season opener against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 17, one role Smith knows he won't be playing is that of a distraction.
"This is my 14th year. I've had a lot of B.S. in my past," Smith said. "I don't plan on bringing that to the Cavs."
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