In January, New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson green-lighted a three-team trade, sending J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for three non-guaranteed player contracts and a couple of draft picks in what was deemed as an unbalanced unloading for the orange and blue.
Well one ESPN writer, who had spent one day with Jackson during each month of his first year as the team's president, published the events Monday that led up to the Zenmaster getting rid of Smith and he claims it was partly due to J.R.'s issues with his girlfriend.
"J.R. had been exhibiting some delinquent behavior and had gotten into the habit of coming late to team meetings, or missing them altogether," Jackson told ESPN three days after the trade. "Also, Shump and Tim [Hardaway Jr.] were regressing, so I decided to meet with them separately and try to find out what, if anything, was bothering them.
"We talked about his statement to the press that our shooting guard depth was going to be the team's asset, but so far it hadn't worked out that way," Jackson continued. "He was supposed to carry the scoring load for the second unit and he wasn't doing the job. I also said that because of his unacceptable behavior, he had two strikes against him with this team. He didn't really respond. He's a very sensitive guy, with his big doe eyes. He looked like he was going to tear up. But he finally responded that he was going through some issues with his gal."
Jackson told him that first-year Knicks coach Derek Fisher even told him that Smith "always walked around under a dark cloud" and that he was worried that the negativity would be contagious, leading to the trade.
Well, something must have clicked with Smith — probably less distractions in Cleveland — as the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year went on to become a key contributor in the Cavaliers' rotation, even averaging 18 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks.
There are even reports about how Cleveland can possibly re-sign him for the 2015-16 season.
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