Cavaliers using fourth starting lineup of 2017-18 season
NEW YORK -- Five games into the young NBA season, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is committing to his fourth different starting l i neup.
The Cavs will start Derrick Rose, JR Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson on Saturday when they play the New Orleans Pelicans, Lue said.
Cleveland opened the season with Rose, Dwyane Wade, James, Jae Crowder and Love as its starters. It switched to Jose Calderon, Wade, James, Crowder and Love; then to Smith, James, Crowder, Love and Thompson. And now this.
The latest lineup swap sends Crowder, the only player Cleveland received from the Kyrie Irving trade currently in Lue's rotation, to the bench.
"Just another class act by Jae. He was great," Lue said of the latest potentially difficult conversation he had to have with one of his players - mirroring the chats he already had with Smith, Thompson, Wade and Channing Frye -- about his role changing. "[He] said 'Nah, do whatever you want. You don't have to explain anything to me. I just want to win. That's the most important thing.'"
"I've been open to change because we haven't found our groove yet," Crowder said. "We're still searching for answers to see how we can get games rolling in our favor. So I'm open to whatever the team wants me to do, because at the end of the day we're trying to reach a goal."
It also means abandoning Cleveland's experiment with Love as the team's starting center -- the most radical adjustment Lue planned for the team during the offseason. "Kevin's still going to play some 5 when Jae comes in early for Tristan," Lue said. "We just can't have him playing 35 minutes at the 5. It's wearing him down. You can kind of see that. It's affecting his shot. We tried it. We said we've got a lot of versatile lineups we can try and change, but just getting back to who we were, how we've started over the past three years."
James, whose Miami Heat team started 9-8 in 2010-11 in its first season together and whose Cavaliers went 19-20 at the beginning of 2014-15, sees a parallel with this Cavs team that is trying to incorporate eight new players.
"It's just a learning curve that you have to go through when you're adding a new group, and I don't want it easy, anyways," James said. "I don't like for it to be easy. I like the challenge."
The Cavs will be starting games for the foreseeable future with four of the five players who started against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals and Rose swapped in Irving's place.