J.R. Smith doesn't know what to make of his demotion or his role moving forward.
The Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard was surprised to learn he was losing his starting spot via a text from Tyronn Lue on Monday, and wishes he received an explanation from his head coach, who told reporters he made the move because he "just felt like it."
Though the Cavaliers have dropped two games in a row and are 6-6 since the trade deadline, Smith noted his production has been "steady" so he doesn't quite understand the lineup change.
"That's all right, though," Smith told ESPN's Dave McMenamin on Tuesday. "I'm not upset about it. I just wish there would have been more dialogue, I guess."
Smith spent the first decade of his career predominantly in a reserve role, and won the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year award. But since joining the Cavaliers in 2015, he's started the majority of games. The 32-year-old was frustrated when he opened the campaign playing behind Dwyane Wade, but got his starting spot back after three games.
What will Smith's role be with the second unit?
"Honestly I don't know," he replied. "I don't know. But I think it's good for the first unit though because we actually get to have someone out there we're going to run stuff for and who is a threat, as opposed to having somebody who is not an option."
Smith clarified that his scoring usually comes within the flow of the offense - "go-get-em buckets," he calls them - rather than featured sets.
He's averaging 8.3 points on 39 percent shooting from the field and 36.2 percent from deep to go along with 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 29 minutes per outing for the Cavaliers, who entered the matchup in Phoenix in fourth place and one game back of third.