J.R. Smith's soup's on one of his coaches

Posted: March 3, 2018 at 2:15 a.m.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith

Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith

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 after 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 today's shootaround before the Cavs play Denver.

Until then, what triggered his brothy outburst remains a mystery.

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 whether 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. But he's had few problems with the Cavs and has been a key member of three consecutive 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 after 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.

Combine king

When everything is taken into account -- ability, potential, character -- the safest pick in this year's NFL Draft is likely running back Saquon Barkley from Penn State.

And over the first two days of the NFL combine, Barkley has done nothing to disappoint.

On Thursday, Barkley -- who measured 6 feet, 233 pounds -- did 29 reps on the bench press, which was better than all but five of the 36 offensive linemen who took part in the bench press this year.

And he followed it up Friday with even more amazing numbers: a 41-inch vertical jump, and 4.41- and 4.42-second times in the 40-yard dash.

NFL Research tweeted there was one player with 25 or more reps in bench press and a vertical of 40 or more inches in 2017: Myles Garrett, who went No. 1 in the draft to Cleveland and is a 6-4, 270-pound pass rusher.

Pro Football Reference offered even more historical perspective. The website has combine data going back to 2000, and only one player can match or better Barkley's output in the bench, vertical and 40 -- tight end Vernon Davis in 2006. Davis did 33 reps on bench, had a 42-inch vertical and a 4.38-second time in the 40.

Barkley was impressive already, but he is certainly rising to the occasion in Indianapolis this week.


How many touchdowns did Saquon Barkley score in three seasons at Penn State?


53 (43 rushing, 8 receiving, 2 kick returns). He also threw for 1.

Sports on 03/03/2018