To the surprise of nobody, the Los Angeles Lakers are planning to sign J.R. Smith in advance of the NBA’s restart in Orlando.
It seems like the Los Angeles Lakers and J.R. Smith have been on a collision course for quite some time now. The two parties just needed the right circumstances in order to make this union finally work, and the right circumstances did indeed present themselves this past week.
After guard Avery Bradley opted out of playing with the Lakers in the NBA’s restarted season in Orlando, the door was opened for Smith to capitalize on the opportunity. He had worked out for the Lakers earlier in the season, but they chose to sign Dion Waiters instead. Now, finally, the moment is right, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a deal is all but done.
Smith hasn’t played in the NBA since November of 2018, so it may be a stretch to expect him to actually contribute much outside of emergency situations, but considering the deep and uncharted waters the entire league is about to embark into, such a scenario would be hard to rule out.
Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be expected to carry most of the load at the guard spots throughout the seeding stage and the playoffs, but Smith’s veteran presence will likely be a factor in some way, shape or form.
Smith has plenty of experience in the playoffs, particularly alongside LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s played 130 playoff games in his career and 79 of those came between 2014 and 2018 with the Cavs. As a Cavalier, he shot 41.2 percent from the floor, 40.6 percent from 3-point range and took 64.2 percent of his field goal attempts from behind the arc.
While odds are slim that Smith will be a major part of any championship run, he remains the kind of player you can’t quite count out of hitting a 3-pointer that swings a game or series. If there’s any player in the NBA today who can come in and hit five 3-pointers off the bench in a quarter to change everything, it’s J.R. Smith.
For a cheap short-term flier, the Los Angeles Lakers could do a lot worse than Smith.