Lakers set to sign JR Smith as Avery Bradley’s replacement Wednesday
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka revealed the team will sign a free agent for the rest of the 2019-20 season to take the place of Avery Bradley on Wednesday.
While Pelinka wouldn’t name any names, it’s widely expected to be JR Smith:
#Lakers GM Rob Pelinka says the team plans to sign a replacement player for Avery Bradley tomorrow. Obviously, that's likely JR Smith.
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) June 30, 2020
Last week, Bradley said he will opt out of the season’s restart in Orlando, citing family reasons for his decision:
“As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family. And so, at a time like this, I can’t imagine making any decision that might put my family’s health and well-being at even the slightest risk,” Bradley told ESPN. “As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”
The 29-year old Bradley would have been one of the Lakers’ starting guards in Orlando, thanks to his elite perimeter defense, especially on point guards. Before the hiatus, Bradley was averaging 8.6 points in 24.2 minutes per game while hitting 36.4 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Smith reportedly has a deal in place to join the top-seeded Lakers (49-14) in the Disney World “bubble.” The 34-year-old last played in the NBA in the fall of 2018, when he played just 11 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The former Sixth Man of the Year winner doesn’t replicate Bradley’s game besides their position, but he was theoretically one of the best 3-point shooters available on the market. Plus, Smith has been on four championship quests alongside LeBron James, making four straight NBA Finals appearances and winning the 2016 title in Cleveland.
The Lakers have a healthy 5.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference standings, so their hold on the top spot is pretty safe.