When the NBA resumes its season in Orlando on July 31, teams will be allowed to carry up to 17 players—two more than usual—as a precautionary measure in case a player contracts COVID-19. As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported, players who have signed an NBA or G-League contract within the past two seasons will be available to sign for the rest of the season. This stipulation renders JR Smith, available to hop on with a new team—an outcome NBA Twitter is surely rooting for (same goes for eligible and entertaining free agents Lance Stephenson and Jamal Crawford).
Smith last played in the NBA in fall 2018, but has been (ostensibly) keeping himself in shape. For all of his shenanigans, Smith brings, at the very least, a ton of playoff experience, with 130 postseason games under his belt over his 15-year career.
But which of the 22 teams heading to Orlando could use Smith’s scoring punch? Let’s examine three possible landing spots for the 34-year old.
Los Angeles Lakers
This is the favorite out of the gate, in part because the Lakers have expressed interest in Smith as recently as February. L.A. missed out on adding some scoring and depth at the deadline and in the buyout market and could use another creator in the backcourt. Of course, Smith played with LeBron James on four consecutive East-winning Cleveland Cavaliers squads. Dion Waiters and the aforementioned Crawford are options for the Lakeshow, too.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clips are already maybe the deepest team in the league, and have Lou Williams, Reggie Jackson, and Landry Shamet offering backcourt depth. But, they’ve made an open habit out of poaching would-be Lakers, so it would be amusing to see them do it again, as long as they have the extra roster spots. Hey, one way to make yourself better is to deprive your (likely) opponents of resources.
Ben Simmons is awesome, but his utter lack of interest in perimeter shooting severely hinders Philly’s spacing. This team was oddly up-and-down all season, so bringing on the unpredictable Smith aligns with the team’s apparent nature. Wings Matisse Thybulle and Josh Richardson are not exactly sharpshooters, and, like the Lakers, the Sixers were bottom-10 in the league in 3-point frequency before the season went on hiatus. Furkan Korkmaz is a reliable sniper (39.7% from downtown), but general manger Elton Brand could opt to use an extra roster space to take a flyer on Smith, whose splashed the 13th-most threes in NBA history and who will absolutely not hesitate to fire from far, far away.