by Chris Camello (@chris_camello)
LOS ANGELES — After Avery Bradley opted out of the NBA Restart in Orlando, the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t waste time finding his replacement signing veteran JR Smith.
Smith was apart of four Finals’ appearances in Cleveland with LeBron James and was a significant piece on the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship team with his clutch scoring and strong perimeter defense against the Splash Brothers.
Although Smith hasn’t played in an NBA game in nearly two years, he certainly brings a ton of valuable experience to the table.
Smith’s contract only runs through the remainder of the 2020 season, so this could be the last audition the 34-year-old has to display what he’s got left. The Lakers have had great success adding guys with a chip on their shoulder, hungry to prove doubters wrong. Smith could definitely be one; especially considering nobody else offered him a contract this season.
One of the issues the Lakers have had is a lack of shot creators especially when James exits the floor. They are among the top teams in offensive efficiency when LeBron is playing, but when he’s on the bench, they fall to the bottom third.
What’s unique about Smith is not only does he provide valuable floor spacing and timely three-point shooting when playing alongside James, but he could also create his own offense without James. This could allow the Lakers’ offense to be productive while the King rests.
Smith has had maturity issues in the past and his shot selection and focus have been questionable, however, the guy is still a big game player who’s never short of confidence.
While he is streaky, when Smith is hot, he’s difficult to cool down and that alone might be enough to steal a playoff game or two. Combine that aspect with knowing this could be his last shot to continue his NBA career, and the Lakers have made a savvy pickup.
If this works out, Smith could have a new contract and some more jewelry going into next season.