After having surgery on his right thumb, J.R. Smith has been ruled out for 12 to 14 weeks.
A significant piece of the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers’ puzzle will be sidelined for the next three months. The Cavs’ starting shooting guard needed surgery to repair what the team called a “complex fracture” of his right thumb.
Smith injured his thumb in the second quarter of Cleveland’s overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. He should be 100% healthy by the time the playoffs begin, in other words when the Cavs’ real season begins.
“Just next man up, gotta be ready to play,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue. “We’re going to miss J.R. but I’m confident Griff will get something done. No pressure on him, or me, just gotta keep coaching and I’m sure he’ll get things done.
In the meantime while the team’s general manager David Griffin searches for the right move to make, the Cavs will start DeAndre Liggins in his place. Iman Shumpert and Mike Dunleavy will also get an increase in time on the court in Smith’s absence.
Despite earning a four-year $57 million contract, Smith has struggled this season. He is shooting 33.7 percent overall and 36.2 percent from the three-point line. Smith won’t be needed until crunch time in April anyway, but the Cavs will need him shooting at a higher clip than he has been.