In a three-team trade Monday night, the Cleveland Cavs acquired Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith from the New York Knicks. Cleveland sent Alex Kirk and Lou Amundson to New York while shipping Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City. The Thunder sent Lance Thomas to the Knicks and surrendered a protected future first round pick to the Cavs. For the Knicks, the deal is to clear cap space while, the Thunder and Cavs bolster their rosters to make deep playoff runs.

One of the main focal points of this trade involved Cleveland cutting ties with Dion Waiters and replacing him with the likes of J.R. Smith. Although he has been considered a high risk player around the league, Smith has a terrific upside. The 11 year veteran ideally fits into the role that Cleveland wanted Waiters to accept. Smith is a better catch a shoot player, something Waiters couldn’t excel, let alone even accept.

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Despite recent struggles, 40% shooting from the field, 35.6% from three, and 69% at the foul line, J.R. Smith can be an exceptional bench scorer. The 29 year old is just two years removed from winning Sixth Man of the Year honors.

Although, Smith has struggled since, the Cavaliers are hoping a change of scenery can do the shooting guard good, it’s happened many times before. Playing for playoff contention should be all the motivation needed to perform well. That being said, Smith will be expected to contribute on both sides of the court. This season, the guard is averaging 10.9 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game, despite it being a down year for Smith. When locked in, his talent is unquestionable, but J.R. Smith has been described as mercurial. Mercurial is defined as (of a person) subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind. Yeah, I’d say that defines J.R. Smith. In other words, it sounds like a locker room cancer. But will he be that?

Despite his immature behavior, I believe J.R. Smith can be a quality asset to the immediate success of this team. If the newly acquire guard is engaged, his offense can be explosive and his defense can be meticulous. On the other hand, if Smith isn’t happy and causes a ruckus, Cleveland has enough talent not to rely on Smith’s productivity. All in all, I expect this to work out greatly for the Cavs. Now, it’s just up for J.R. to prove to us that he isn’t a washed up cancerous NBA player, like many fans around the NBA believe. We will our first look at him tonight as the Cavs face the Houston Rockets. Tune in and watch this story unfold!

-Max Gold

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