NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks are trading J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who could give them a shot to fill Dion Waiters‘ former role in their backcourt.
The Knicks agreed to trade the guards to the Cavaliers on Monday night, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. Cleveland prepared itself for a trade when it scratched Waiters for its game at Philadelphia after he had been listed in the starting lineup.
The Knicks 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 plans to waive whatever players it acquires in the deal that also includes the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to reports.
Cleveland has struggled to fill the shooting guard role, part of the reason for its disappointing 19-15 in its first season since LeBron James returned to the Cavaliers. Waiters, the No. 4 overall pick in 2010, has been the subject of trade speculation for two seasons. He’s a proven scorer and his defense has improved this season under first-year coach David 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 All-Star Kyrie Irving.
Waiters has started three games this season and is averaging 10.5 points. He would have been performing in front of family and friends in Philadelphia with Irving sidelined because of a back problem.
Waiters 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.
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 came into Monday with a 5-31 record, the most losses in the NBA.
They 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.
Before Oklahoma City’s game at Golden State, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said only that everybody would be available.