Ty Lue, JR Smith ready to get younger guys up to speed on Cavs

Lessons key in early preparations for season

Kyle Lewandowski
September 26, 2018 - 2:17 pm
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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Independence, OH (92.3 The Fan) - There are not many teams in the NBA that would choose to go the route the Cavs have chosen heading into the 2018-19 season and it has the potential to change the way teams view the idea of tanking.

Tanking was a real option for a Cavalier franchise dealing with the departure of the best basketball player in the world who led them to four straight NBA Finals appearences along with the lone championship the city of Cleveland can claim since 1964.

Instead the Cavs have chosen to mix together veteran pieces from those Finals runs with an influx of young, hungry, talented players to help move the franchise forward without plummeting to the bottom first.

Today was day two of practice and head coach Tyronn Lue came away encouraged by what he saw on the court ahead of tonight's scrimmage.

"Guys picked up on the little, small things we've tweaked," Lue said. "Today they showed a lot of progress, which was surprising."

Lue knows that with the age difference thoughout the roster there are going to be times where some guys will be ready to move forward with preparations while others will simply need more time to understand concepts.

"It's tough because the veterans know a lot of the stuff but they have to be patient because a lot of the younger guys don't know," Lue said. "That's the toughest part of training camp, how much you want to give the guys and not overload guys."

That is where the benefit of having so many veteran players around a group of young guys can really show itself.

"All our vets, the guys who have been here, they understand and they can teach and kind of show how we do things around here, so it's been good," Lue said.

One of those veterans is shooting guard JR Smith, who is entering his 15th season in the league. Smith joked about some of the guys in the locker room being in 4th or 5th grade when he was starting in the NBA and those players telling him they remember this and that about early in his career.

"It just makes me want to work that much harder so they can see how I've been able to stick since they were that age to where they are now," Smith said.

Lue mentioned how Smith would have more of a role as a leader and mentor this season and was asked if the 34 year old was ready for the challenge.

"Yeah, he's excited about it," Lue said. "He's a veteran, he's seen a lot, he's learned a lot, he's matured a lot. He understands. I think he gets it now. When you play for so long and now it's starting to come to an end, you can kind of appreciate the things you've learned and try to pass it on to the younger guys."

Smith was asked if his mindset coming into this season has changed at all to that of previous seasons now that there are young guys here to learn from him and the other veterans and why he believes he is a guy that can help teach.

"Take down as much knowledge and give as much knowlegde to the younger guys as we can," the 15-year veteran said. "Everyday is a lesson. Coming in here, learning people, learning my teammates, learning my trainers, you can learn from everybody in here."

"If I ain't a lesson teacher, i don't know who is," Smith said. "Obviously, I made tons of mistakes throughout my life on and off the court. If you can't learn from my mistakes and you can't listen to what I have to say then more power to you."

Half of the players on the training camp roster are entering their first, second or thrid season in the NBA. Head coach Ty Lue will become more of a teacher this year than ever before in his young coaching career, as will a number of the veterans on the team. As the coach said on Monday, this season is not about wins and losses but rather wins and lessons.

He was asked if it is going to be difficult communicating with players so young and in the case of their first round draft pick Collin Sexton, someone who is more than half his own age.

"It's not tough at all," Lue said. "Communication is communication. If you have those kind of skills it goes a long way."