NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Knicks are trading J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the disappointing Cavaliers, who have struggled in superstar LeBron James’ first season back in Cleveland.
The Knicks agreed to trade Smith and Shumpert, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday night. New York will get a second-round pick in 2019 from the Cavaliers, the person said on condition of anonymity because the trade was not yet official. New York, off to one of the worst starts in franchise history, plans to waive whatever players it acquires in the deal that also includes the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to reports.
The Cavs, who dropped to 19-16 on Monday with a 95-92 loss in Philadelphia, pulled guard Dion Waiters from the starting lineup before the game amid speculation he’s on the move. Cleveland also sat reserves Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk.
Following the loss, Cavs first-year coach David Blatt said team management requested the players be pulled due to discussions on a “possible trade.” Blatt said he did not have any other details.
Cleveland has struggled to fill the shooting guard role, part of the reason for its sluggish start, which has also included a rash of key injuries. Both James and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving sat out as the Cavs were beaten by the lowly Sixers, who got their first home win this season.
Waiters was removed from the starting lineup shortly before tipoff n his hometown. The No. 4 overall pick in 2010, Waiters has been the subject of trade speculation for two seasons. He’s a proven scorer and his defense has improved this season under Blatt, but he hasn’t been able to nail down the spot and the Cavs also have tried Shawn Marion and Mike Miller next to Irving.
Waiters has started three games this season and is averaging 10.5 points. He averaged 15.9 points last season, the highest average for any reserve in the Eastern Conference.
James has missed the past five games with a strained knee and back and could be sidelined for another week, and the Cavs have already lost starting center Anderson Varejao for the season following an Achilles injury.
It’s only going to get tougher for the Cavs, who after facing Houston at home on Wednesday night, will go on a five-game West Coast trip.
“We have to get as many players as we can get back,” center Kevin Love said. “We’re about to hit murderer’s row now on the West Coast. We need to keep fighting. We’re down but not out.”
Smith was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2013, but has battled injuries to his heel this season, along with his usual struggles with his shot selection and focus off the court. He was held out of the line Monday night in Memphis.
Shumpert also has been hurt, remaining sidelined with a dislocated shoulder. He had been starting before his injury for the Knicks, who dropped to an NBA-worst 5-32 on Monday night with 105-03 loss in Memphis. He was averaging 9.3 points before getting hurt. He would be a defensive upgrade for the Cavs, who have done a poor job stopping teams all season.
The Knicks are clearly looking to the future in their first full season under President Phil Jackson, and it was unclear if they would have tried to re-sign Shumpert, a former first-round pick who has never developed enough offense to go along with his defensive skills.
Smith has an option next season on his contract that would pay him $6.4 million. Shumpert is in the final year of his rookie deal, making $2.8 million this season.
Before Oklahoma City’s game at Golden State, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said only that everybody would be available.