As LeBron James prepares to make his return to Cleveland as a visiting player on Wednesday, his former Cavaliers team sits in the NBA's basement with a league-worst 2-13 record. And according to Cavs holdover JR Smith, that is by design.
"I don't think the goal is to win," Smith said to The Athletic's Jason Lloyd. "The goal isn't to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can. I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan."
It's the first time anyone with the Cavaliers has made such a public declaration, though it isn't exactly surprising it's coming from Smith. The veteran admitted he asked for a trade earlier this month, as he was irked by the organization's decision to commit to its youth movement.
He reiterated his desire to be traded, but refused to consider a buyout.
"I don't want my legacy to be remembered like that in Cleveland," Smith said of a possible buyout. "I don't think that's fair to the people I see every single day walking around the arena. I don't think that's fair to the trainers or equipment guys ... I just look at it differently than being traded. I don't like the statement of getting bought out."
Smith is owed $14.7 million this season and is averaging a career-low 6.7 points on 34.2 percent shooting.