INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Chicken noodle or tomato? J.R. Smith didn’t serve up any explanation.
Cleveland’s mercurial shooting guard declined an interview request Friday, a day after the Cavaliers suspended him one game for throwing a bowl of soup at assistant coach Damon Jones.
The soup toss came following Thursday’s shootaround at the team’s training facility, hours before the Cavs played the Philadelphia 76ers, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not disclosed details.
Smith was with his teammates Friday — the Cavs didn’t practice, but watched film — and after getting in some extra shots, he told a team spokesman he will address the media at Saturday’s shootaround before the Cavs play Denver.
Until then, what triggered his brothy outburst remains a mystery.
ESPN.com first reported the reason for Smith’s suspension.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Smith did not address the team over the latest drama for a team that has had no shortage of theater this season.
“I had a little discussion with him,” Lue said before refusing to say if he was the one who suspended Smith.
The 32-year-old Smith, who served his suspension while the Cavs were beaten by the Sixers, had a history of fines and other issues before arriving in Cleveland by a trade in 2014. However, he’s had few problems with the Cavs and has been a key member of three straight Eastern Conference championship teams. Smith has endeared himself to Cleveland fans with his hustle and knack for knocking down big shots.
But Smith hasn’t been himself this season. He’s always been a streaky shooter, but his shot isn’t falling as often. In 59 games (56 starts), Smith is averaging 8.3 points — the second-lowest average of his career — and shooting 39 percent.
An emotional player and person, Smith was clearly bothered by the arrival before the season of Dwyane Wade, who briefly took his starting spot. Wade was traded to Miami at the deadline, and the move seemed to invigorate Smith.
Rodney Hood started in Smith’s place against the Sixers and scored 11 points on 5 of 14 shooting. Before Thursday’s game, Lue said Smith will return to the starting lineup following his suspension.
Smith’s target, Jones, previously played for the Cavs and is in his second season as an assistant on Lue’s staff. Jones played in the NBA for 11 seasons for 10 teams.
Before Thursday’s clash with Smith, the talkative Jones engaged in a lively shooting contest with point guard George Hill