It’s no secret that the Cavaliers just aren’t the same without departed LeBron James.
Cleveland dropped to a league-worst 2-13 record Monday with a 113-102 loss to the Pistons, and JR Smith isn’t buying any of the talk about a potential turnaround and trip to the playoffs.
“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith told The Athletic on Monday. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”
While he understands the business side of basketball, Smith reiterated that he wants no part in Cleveland’s plans as long as they involve giving less than 100 percent.
“Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he added.
Smith, 33, is averaging a career-low 6.7 points per game in his 15th NBA season and fourth with the Cavs. He has publicly stated that he wants out of Cleveland but has been reluctant to accept a buyout.
“I don’t want my legacy to be remembered like that in Cleveland,” Smith said. “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.”
However, The Athletic reported later Monday that Smith “will no longer be actively with the Cavs” and “will work out on his own” while the team negotiates a trade, noting that the breakup is “amicable.”
The Cavs are slated to host James and the Lakers at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday for the first time since the superstar left for Los Angeles.