J.R. Smith has not played NBA basketball at all this year, but the seasoned veteran could potentially help a pair of contenders bolster their roster.
Ever since his late-game blunder in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, where he dribbled out the clock in a tied game, J.R. Smith has been a name many wish they could forget. Smith played 11 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers the following season before being exiled by the team and has not seen any action since.
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With the NBA playoffs still potentially in play during the next few months, a pair of teams could use the services of a guy like Smith. The 2012-13 Sixth Man of the Year often gets overlooked in terms of free agents because of his Finals fiasco, but could still be a serviceable veteran for a team in need of some scoring off the bench.
Throughout his 15 years in the league, Smith made a name for himself as a premier shooter, with career averages of 12.5 points per game on 41.9 percent field goal shooting and 37.3 percent 3-point shooting. Smith had a minimized role in Cleveland playing alongside the likes of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love as his stats dipped, but still did his job and shot the ball effectively.
Signing Smith to a minimum deal would be a low-risk, high-reward scenario for a contender, as the guard has plenty of postseason experience, offensive capabilities, and at 34-years-old, could still perform at a high level.
The 2016 NBA Champion is not going to come in and be the focal point of any offense, but for a team looking for a guard who can come off the bench and hit a few tough shots, there are not many better options on the market. Smith has consistently worked out in his time out of the NBA, as he assured he has just been waiting for his phone to ring for an opportunity.
While the thought of taking a risk on Smith could scare some teams away, there are two, in particular, that should push that fear aside and give the 34-year-old a chance.