clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

J.R. Smith loves Cleveland because there's nowhere to party

New, comments

J.R. said he's happy to be in Cleveland because "there's nothing but basketball."

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith said he's happy to be in Cleveland not just for a chance to reach the playoffs, but also because it's allowed him to get away from the New York City nightlife.

"I think this is the best situation for me," Smith told David Aldridge of NBA.com as part of an interview reflecting on his trade from the Knicks.

The Cavaliers acquired Smith and Iman Shumpert Jan. 6 as part of a three-team trade with New York and Oklahoma City. He's since established himself as the team's starting shooting guard, and appears to be relishing the experience in his new environment:

"I think this is the best situation for me, ’cause there’s nothing but basketball," Smith said. "There’s nothing you expect but basketball. There’s nothing, there’s no going out, there’s no late nights. There’s video games, basketball and basketball. So it’s a great thing, ’cause I go back to where I came from. When I grew up, I never, I wasn’t allowed to go out. I missed my prom because I went to an AAU tournament, and all that stuff. For me, it was basketball, basketball, basketball."

Smith won a Sixth Man of the Year award during his three-plus years with the Knicks, but battled inconsistency throughout his tenure. For every big scoring outburst from Smith, New York got a lethargic performance. With the season cratering due to injuries and a lack of talent, the Knicks decided to cut ties, even if it meant losing Shumpert, too.

There seems to be an explanation for that inconsistent effort, though, as Smith attributes it to his active nightlife while living in the Big Apple.

"It was kind of pulling me down in a sense, of not getting enough rest, not doing things you’re supposed to be doing, things you’re used to doing. So when you start missing those shots you’re supposed to make, especially wide-open shots, it was like, all right, what’s going on, what’s going on? Instead of looking at what it is, you’re reverting to that even more, instead of going back to the basics. So I think that’s the greatest part about being here."

Smith says he now spends his free time practicing with his brother, Chris -- a former Knick -- and resting up instead of partying. Since joining the Cavaliers, he's averaging 32.7 minutes, 14.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, up from averages of 25.8, 10.9 and 2.4 in his time with New York this season.

Smith remains an inefficient scorer -- he's shooting 40 percent from the field with Cleveland -- but he's also happier and more comfortable now. A few weeks into the partnership between these two, things are looking good.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NBA NEWSLETTER

Get news, links and Ziller's #hottakes in your inbox every weekday morning.