Home Basketball Tyronn Lue says he will shuffle Cleveland Cavaliers lineup after loss

Tyronn Lue says he will shuffle Cleveland Cavaliers lineup after loss

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SAN ANTONIO — With a contentious team meeting apparently not enough to shake the Cleveland Cavaliers from their extended midseason slump, another loss finally convinced coach Tyronn Lue that it is time to shake up his lineup.

“I’m gonna make a change,” Lue said after a 114-102 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, the Cavs’ 10th defeat in 13 games since Christmas Day.

Lue would not reveal which starter or starters he would target with the shuffle. However, besides LeBron James and Kevin Love, all three other positions could be switched in Isaiah Thomas, JR Smith and Jae Crowder.

Thomas shot 3-for-9 against the Spurs and had just two assists with three turnovers, racking up a plus-minus of minus-15 in 28 minutes.

Smith shot 0-for-4 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3 on Tuesday. He is 5-for-31 from 3 (16.1 percent) in the Cavs’ past seven games.

Crowder had one of his better games of the season Tuesday, with 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting and four rebounds.

If Lue chooses to go big by putting Tristan Thompson back at center and sliding Love back to power forward, Crowder would be ushered to the second unit.

Smith, who balked at his demotion earlier in the season when Dwyane Wade began the year as the starting shooting guard, told ESPN that he would hold no ill feelings and would accept a bench role now if it would help the team. He acknowledged that he isn’t playing up to his standards and wants the team to play better.

At Sunday’s practice, Lue declared that he was not changing his lineups because “it’s not the best thing right now.” Then Monday’s meeting happened, with an explosive airing of grievances, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The meeting highlighted a division in the Cavs’ locker room that has become apparent as the months have passed: the old guard, the players who were around for Cleveland’s success the past several seasons, versus the new guard, the eight players added this season, multiple sources told ESPN.

Beyond the disappointment of Tuesday’s loss, the fallout from Monday’s discussion blanketed the Cavs’ postgame locker room at AT&T Center.

“Everybody wants accountability, but nobody actually wants to be held accountable,” one player told ESPN. “The crazy thing is that it still all feels correctable.”

Said another player, from the old guard faction of the roster: “There is no trust out there on the court. This is the worst it’s been.”

The Cavs will have Wednesday off and will practice Thursday ahead of Friday’s home game against the Indiana Pacers, who are 3-0 against Cleveland this season.

“I mean, if we’re going to speak out and talk, we got to back it up,” Lue said after the loss to the Spurs. “And, I mean, we didn’t do that tonight. We talked about it this morning. It could be healthy, but you’ve got to do something about it.”

Lue repeated his mantra of being concerned with his team’s “connectedness” above all else as it tries to not only navigate its losing streak but also manage the uneasiness that comes with the looming Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“When it got tough, we just got to stay together,” Lue said. “Some guys are frustrated because they missed shots. Some guys are frustrated because they can’t get their rhythm. Some guys are frustrated when they get scored on. So I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. But for the most part, [we’ve] just got to stay together and continue to play the game.”



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