At this point, it appears that JR Smith is the frontrunner to take on the recently-vacated spot on the Los Angeles Lakers courtesy of Avery Bradley and his decision to skip the remainder of the season in the Florida bubble. Earlier reports confirmed that the Lakers were serious about Smith as a potential replacement, so the interest seems to be mutual. After all, Smith was recently seen biking around LA with none other than LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so you know he’s been hanging around with what now seems to be his soon-to-be teammates.
The Lakers don’t have much to work with in terms of available players in the free agency market right now. Bradley’s decision, while completely understandable, left the team in a bit of a jam. They can do much worse than Smith right now, to be honest, and it really does seem that at this point, the 6-foot-6 veteran swingman is their best choice.
For starters, Smith was without a doubt one of the most potent three-point shooters in the league during his prime. He is arguably the best three-point shooter available in the market right now, actually. Throughout his career, he has averaged 2.0 triples per game on a highly respectable 37.3-percent mark. There’s no denying that at 34, he’s now a far cry from his heyday, but as they say, once a shooter, always a shooter.
Smith had a terrible 2018-19 campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers — the last we saw him in the NBA — playing nothing more than a fringe role for a squad looking towards youth development. He averaged just 20.2 minutes in just 11 games played throughout the campaign, but he was still able to sink 1.1 triples per game on a 37.5-percent clip.
It’s no secret that LeBron needs to be surrounded with shooters, and who better than a player who he has actually played with in the past. Familiarity is another aspect we must take into account, considering how Smith played alongside LeBron for a couple of years with the Cavs. Smith actually played a huge role in that memorable 2016 Cavs championship, and the fact that James is already well aware of Smith’s strengths (and his weaknesses) will be a factor if and when the Lakers opt to bring him on.
At the end of the day, it’s not going to be easy to replace what Bradley brings to the table. We’re not going to sell you on the fantasy that Smith will be a like-for-like replacement for him, but all things considered, the Lakers signing JR Smith for the remainder of the season does not sound like a bad idea at all.