Say what you will about J.R. Smith, he always finds a way to keep things interesting. Whether he’s parading around without a shirt, throwing soup at an assistant coach or forgetting the score during the NBA Finals, there’s never a shortage of excitement when Smith is around.
His outrageous behavior was accepted while he was helping LeBron James pile up Eastern Conference championships, but he wore out his welcome quickly when the Cavaliers started rebuilding. Smith began last season embroiled in a dispute over playing veterans or young guys that got coach Tyronn Lue fired after six games. Smith was exiled after 11 games and had been on the roster in name only since November.
Even with a trade-friendly contract, the Cavs couldn’t find a taker for Smith and opted to waive him this week rather than giving him more money to further extend his guarantee date. The 33-year-old is now on the open market, where interest so far has been lukewarm.
He met Thursday with the Bucks, who were searching for another wing player to hit 3-pointers. There’s hasn’t been any word on how that meeting went, but Milwaukee reached an agreement with Kyle Korver this afternoon, which may eliminate any need for Smith.
The Lakers and a reunion with LeBron had been considered another possibility, but a report Monday seemed to quash that rumor. It’s not clear whether James wants Smith on his team again, and L.A. is well stocked at shooting guard with Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Troy Daniels already on the roster.
There’s a limited market for Smith considering his age and eccentricities. He’ll have to find a contending team willing to give him a rotation role, but also one with strong leadership to keep him from disrupting the locker room. Smith will also likely have to be content with the veterans minimum, which is all that most contenders can offer at this point. The Sixers have been mentioned as a possibility, along with the Heat, Clippers, Rockets, Celtics and a few other teams.
We want to get your input on the best place for Smith to end up. Or has he outlived his usefulness in the NBA? Please leave your answers in the space below.