Lue has heard from a myriad of voices urging him to cut ties with Smith as Cleveland has struggled this season, but he says that would be wrong.
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) February 12, 2018
Smith, 32, is averaging 8.3 points and shooting .367 from 3-point range, along with a career-worst defensive rating of 112.7.
“If it wasn’t for JR in ’16 making those eight straight points coming out in the third quarter, we don’t win the championship,” Lue said after practice Monday. “People saying quit on JR, give up on JR, it’s not right.”
Smith scored 15 points in Sunday’s 121-99 win over the Celtics and shot 6-of-7 from the field. He tied his own record for in-game field-goal percentage (.857) with at least five attempts.
“Sometimes your shot is going to come and go, that’s just part of the game,” Lue said. “For the most part, his effort is there every night. That’s why I wanted to stick with JR and I don’t want to lose JR. Make sure keep him in good spirits, going in the right direction. He’s big for us. When he’s making shots, when he’s being aggressive, our team is a whole different team.”