Cavs’ J.R. Smith out 3 months following thumb surgery

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, left, and forward Richard Jefferson (24) sit next to empty chairs on the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, in Memphis, Tenn. J.R. Smith needs surgery on his right thumb and will be sidelined indefinitely. Smith got hurt late in the first half of Tuesday night’s, Dec. 20, 2016, game in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers starting guard J.R. Smith will miss at least three months following surgery on his right thumb, a major injury that will have a ripple effect for the defending NBA champions.

The team says Smith, who suffered a “complex fracture” earlier this week, will need 12 to 14 weeks of recovery time. The playoffs begin in mid-April.

Smith’s surgery was performed Friday by renowned hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, with two other physicians assisting.

The loss of Smith, one of the team’s best outside shooters and top perimeter defender, will force coach Tyronn Lue to make adjustments with his rotations and general manager David Griffin to alter the team’s roster.

The Cavs have been looking for a backup point guard, but Smith’s injury could change their priorities.

DeAndre Liggins started in Smith’s spot on Wednesday against Milwaukee.

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