J.R. Smith

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Smith, Bradley, Rondo

The stakes are high for LeBron James as the NBA season moves closer to restarting, writes Scott Cacciola of The New York Times. At age 35 and with a fourth championship possibly in reach, the Lakers star will have a chance to significantly add to his legacy.

Teammates say James maintained his leadership role through the nearly four-month hiatus, offering advice on group chats regarding topics such as gyms that were available for workouts and opportunities to speak out about social justice. He also stayed in top physical condition in preparation for a playoff run.

“He’s in the gym early, he’s leaving late and he’s the last guy working — and probably working the longest and the hardest,” Danny Green said. “He hasn’t changed at all, man.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Veteran guard J.R. Smith, who signed with the Lakers last week, said the coaching staff has given him a clearly defined role, Cacciola adds in the same piece. Smith was instructed to “shoot the ball at a high level” and concentrate on defense, leaving the playmaking duties to others. “It’s fortunate,” he said, “because I’ve never been the guy who was really trying to set up guys.”
  • Even though Avery Bradley opted out of the restart, he will receive a championship ring if the Lakers win the title, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Bradley, the only player from a serious title contender to pass on playing in Orlando, made the decision because of health concerns involving his six-year-old son. “Will I accept the ring? I’m neither here nor there about it,” he said. “I am 10 years in this league. The physical possession of a ring doesn’t make me feel like more or less of a person. I play basketball strictly for enjoyment and to add to the support of my family. Supporting them is exactly what I’m doing right now.”
  • Rajon Rondo is sporting an impressive physique in a Lakers practice video that has been circulating on social media, notes Austin Boyd of Heavy. The 34-year-old guard is notably leaner and stronger than when the season was suspended in March.

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Oubre, Warriors, Smith

Kings big man Marvin Bagley, who has been limited by various injuries throughout his first two NBA seasons, has indicated that he feels vastly improved and is ready for the season restart in Orlando, per James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link).

“I’m doing great,” Bagley said. “I’m 100%.” Bagley has been hampered by a broken thumb and a left foot sprain. He has logged time in only 13 games for the Kings this season.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • During a media call on Monday, Suns general manager James Jones did not rule out the prospect of Kelly Oubre Jr. to join his teammates for the league’s Orlando restart, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Oubre, the team’s starting small forward, underwent an arthroscopic surgery on his right knee for a torn meniscus on March 3 and is reportedly expected to remain sidelined through the summer.
  • Oubre, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the 2021/22 season, could be an appealing trade target for the Warriors, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Slater assesses the Suns forward’s fit with Golden State. The contracts would line up nicely: Oubre is owed $14.2MM in 2020/21, and the Warriors have a $17.2MM trade exception on their books as a result of their Andre Iguodala trade last summer.
  • New Lakers wing J.R. Smith, signed to bolster the team’s depth as a replacement for Avery Bradley, notes that he struggled with depression during the 20-month interim between his last NBA job (with the Cavaliers) and this one, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. “Being somebody who has been around the league predominately for most of their adult life, when that’s kind of taken away from you, it kind of gives you that culture shock and you obviously don’t understand what you lost until it’s gone,” Smith said.

Lakers Notes: Howard, Vogel, Smith, Pelinka

The Lakers still aren’t sure if Dwight Howard will join them in Orlando, but his name will be on the roster the team must submit today, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The veteran center has been a vocal critic of the NBA’s restart plan and is dealing with off-court issues as well. Still, coach Frank Vogel said today on a conference call that Howard has expressed a desire to play.

“We’ve been in communication with Dwight the whole way,” Vogel told reporters. “We don’t know what the level of participation is yet. He wants to play. We’re hopeful he’s able to join us. We’re hopeful and optimistic that he’ll be able to join us in Orlando.”

Howard is in Georgia with his family, according to a league source, and is complying with the league’s home quarantine and testing protocol. He is taking care of his six-year-old son, whose mother died in March.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Vogel doesn’t expect J.R. Smith to take over Avery Bradley‘s role, but the coach believes Smith can help the Lakers in other ways, McMenamin adds in the same piece. “In terms of what he brings to the table, just the experience factor,” Vogel said. “I mean, this guy is a big-time player. He’s proven it over the course of his career. … We almost added him earlier in the year when we added Dion Waiters and now we have the luxury of having both. We’re not going to ask him to come in and be Avery Bradley. He’s going to come in and be J.R. Smith. He’s going to just fill that position, more than fill that role.”
  • Smith didn’t participate in today’s opening of training camp, and Vogel has only had a brief conversation with the veteran guard, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Vogel admitted that Smith’s prior experience playing alongside LeBron James factored into the signing. “His familiarity with LeBron and the way we built our team, obviously, around LeBron, there’s a lot of similarities to the things they did in Cleveland,” Vogel said. “That definitely is a factor in what we feel like JR can bring to the table in what is going to be a very short time to get acclimated.”
  • GM Rob Pelinka believes the restart will be “as much of a mental test as it is a physical test” because of the unusual circumstances, McMenamin writes in a separate story. After a layoff of roughly four months, teams will have to rediscover their chemistry quickly to deal with a condensed schedule. “I think a team like ours, that has such a strong togetherness component, will have an advantage at that part,” Pelinka said. “This team of guys love being together and love playing together. I think that’s the significant part of the (first) 63 games.”

Lakers Sign Veteran Guard J.R. Smith

JULY 1, 12:45pm: Smith has officially signed a contract with the team, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

JUNE 29, 11:10am: The Lakers are expected to finalize a rest-of-season contract with free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith this week, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Smith and the Lakers are working through the final steps of a deal today.

Smith, 34, didn’t play in the NBA at all this season, but worked out for the Lakers in March before the league went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. When word broke last week that Avery Bradley was voluntarily opting out of the NBA’s restart, Smith was immediately identified as a leading candidate to replace him on L.A.’s summer roster.

Smith last played in the NBA in 2018/19, appearing in just 11 games for the Cavaliers before being waived in November of that season. In ’17/18, his last full season, he was a solid role player in Cleveland, averaging 8.3 PPG and 2.9 RPG with a .375 3PT% in 80 games (28.1 MPG).

As a substitute player, Smith will receive a rest-of-season, minimum-salary contract that won’t count against the Lakers’ cap. It will pay him just shy of $290K, which represents 20/177ths of the usual $2,564,753 minimum salary for a player with 10+ years of NBA service. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season and L.A. won’t hold any form of Bird rights on him this fall.

Even with Bradley out, it’s not clear that Smith will actually see much action this summer. However, he becomes the latest intriguing character to join the Lakers’ depth chart on the wing — the team signed veteran shooting guard Dion Waiters shortly before play was suspended in March.

Assuming no other Lakers players voluntarily opt out of the resumption of the season, the club won’t have the ability to make another addition without cutting someone. Currently, all 17 roster spots are filled, with two-way players Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo joining the 15 players on standard contracts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

J.R. Smith Emerges As Candidate To Join Lakers

With Avery Bradley opting not to participate in the NBA’s restart this summer, the Lakers will have the ability to sign a substitute player to replace him, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that J.R. Smith has emerged as a leading candidate to be that player.

A pair of Los Angeles Times reporters, Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner (Twitter links), first suggested that Smith would become a viable option for the Lakers in the wake of Bradley’s decision.

Smith, 34, didn’t play in the NBA at all this season, having last appeared in just 11 games for the Cavaliers in 2018/19 before being waived in November of that season. In ’17/18, his last full season, he was a solid role player in Cleveland, averaging 8.3 PPG and 2.9 RPG with a .375 3PT% in 80 games (28.1 MPG).

Smith worked out for the Lakers in March before the league went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If Smith does sign as a substitute player for Bradley, he’d get a minimum-salary, rest-of-season contract and would become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He wouldn’t count against Los Angeles’ cap, but the team also wouldn’t have any form of Bird rights on him at season’s end.

Lakers Still Monitoring Market For Shooting Help

Even after reaching an agreement to have Dion Waiters fill their 15th roster spot, the Lakers continue to monitor the free agent market in search of shooting help, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. J.R. Smith, who worked out for the team on Monday, is one of the players Los Angeles is keeping an eye on, says Charania.

The Lakers have been an average outside shooting team this season, ranking 15th in three-point percentage (35.9%) and 21st in made threes per game (11.2). Waiters, who has knocked down 36.8% of his threes since he arrived in Miami in 2016/17, may help improve the team’s shot-making off the bench. However, the Lakers apparently aren’t satisfied to simply add Waiters and call it a day — they’ll continue to consider possible upgrades.

Having already waived DeMarcus Cousins and Troy Daniels, the Lakers don’t have many more expendable players on their roster to cut for a new addition. Jared Dudley and Quinn Cook are probably the club’s most likely release candidates, though Dudley is considered a good locker-room presence and Cook has a small partial guarantee ($1MM) on his 2020/21 salary.

Of course, Charania also tweeted on Thursday that the Lakers would be open to the idea of releasing Waiters if things don’t work out between the two sides in the coming weeks.

Other shooters on the free agent market include Allen Crabbe, Ryan Broekhoff, Jamal Crawford, and Ryan Anderson, but not all of those players will fit the mold of what the Lakers are looking for. Smith’s connections – he’s represented by Rich Paul and has played with LeBron James – could also help give him an upper hand if L.A. does decide to bring in someone new.

Lakers Notes: Waiters, Smith, Davis, James

Shooting guard Dion Waiters had an impressive showing in his workout with the Lakers on Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Waiters also met with coach Frank Vogel and front office executives Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis.

Waiters has had a trouble-filled season which included three team-imposed suspensions with the Heat. He was traded to the Grizzlies and then waived. A report surfaced last week that the Lakers would give Waiters a look. The Lakers opened up a roster spot on Sunday by waiving guard Troy Daniels.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The team also brought in another veteran shooting guard, J.R. Smith, for a workout on Monday, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reports. Smith had a casual conversation with Pelinka and Vogel after his workout. The team might look at more free agents and is in no hurry to fill the roster opening, Ganguli adds. Smith hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since November 2018.
  • The Anthony Davis blockbuster trade with New Orleans has turned into a a win-win situation, Andrew Lopez of ESPN notes. Davis has turned the Lakers into serious contenders for the title this season, while the Pelicans’ rebuild has been accelerated with the additions of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, along with the multiple draft picks they acquired. Ingram will be a restricted free agent this offseason, while Ball and Hart will be eligible for extensions.
  • LeBron James offered high praise for the league’s top rookies after defeating both of their squads, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register relays. James led Los Angeles to wins over Memphis and Ja Morant and a pair of victories over New Orleans and Zion Williamson“It’s a hell of a rookie class, I’ll tell you that,” James said. “These kids are special.”

J.R. Smith To Work Out For Lakers This Week

In addition to auditioning Dion Waiters this week, the Lakers will also bring in another veteran free agent guard, J.R. Smith, for a workout, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

There were reports back in late January and early February indicating that the Lakers were expected to work out Smith. That plan got delayed following Kobe Bryant‘s death and the trade deadline, but it sounds like it will finally happen in the coming days.

Smith, 34, hasn’t been on an NBA roster since last July and hasn’t actually played in a game since November of 2018. In 2017/18, his last full season, he was a solid role player for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.3 PPG and 2.9 RPG with a .375 3PT% in 80 games (28.1 MPG).

The Lakers have an open spot on their 15-man roster after waiving Troy Daniels on Sunday and are expected to be patient as they consider several options to fill that opening.

Both Smith and Waiters have the advantage of having been teammates with Lakers star LeBron James in Cleveland, but the Lakers figure to extensively vet both players, who have occasionally made waves off the court or in the locker room throughout their NBA careers.

Lakers Notes: Smith, Collison, Buyouts

The Lakers are expected to give free agent guard J.R. Smith a post-trade deadline audition, perhaps as soon as next week, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets (story first reported by Brandon ‘Scoop’ Robinson of Heavy.com).

Smith hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since November 19, 2018, the last of 11 games he played with the Cavaliers last season. The 34-year-old Smith has averaged 12.5 PPG in an NBA career that began during the 2004/05 season.

The Lakers remain the favorite to sign free agent point guard Darren Collison if he chooses to return to the league after retiring last summer. They’ll also be looking into the buyout market for reinforcements, Stein adds.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • The team did not make a deal prior to Thursday’s deadline and still has a full roster, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin notes in a tweet. McMenamin also relays they’ll look into signing Collison and see what develops in the buyout market.
  • It’s believed that Collison’s preference is the Lakers over the Clippers, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets. Collison is expected to make a decision on whether to un-retire after the All-Star game. He doesn’t want to leave the Southern California area, meaning the Lakers or Clippers would be the main players for his services. The Nuggets and Sixers also reportedly have interest in Collison if he’s willing to move away from the area.

J.R. Smith Turned Down Offer From CBA Team

Free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith reportedly passed on a a contract offer from a team in the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. A source tells Carchia that Smith turned down the proposal – worth about $1.6MM – from the Jiangsu Dragons.

Smith, who will turn 34 in September, spent last season under contract with the Cavaliers. However, he only played 11 games in his fifth season with the franchise, informally parting ways with Cleveland last fall as the team tried to find a taker for his pseudo-expiring contract. The Cavs ultimately didn’t get any trade offers they liked for Smith and waived him this summer.

Assuming Carchia’s information on Jiangsu’s offer is accurate, it makes some sense that Smith would be reluctant to accept it. As a result of being released by the Cavaliers, the veteran guard will earn about $1.46MM in each of the next three years, so he’s not in immediate need of a payday. Plus, if he can catch on with an NBA team, his minimum salary stateside would be about $2.56MM.

We haven’t heard much about the potential NBA market for Smith since he met with the Bucks over a month ago. Milwaukee ultimately opted to sign another shooter, Kyle Korver, but other teams could have interest in Smith if they decide they need another outside threat this fall. He has knocked down 37.3% of 5,167 career three-point attempts.

Of course, if Smith does eventually decide to make the move to China, he’d hardly be the only NBA veteran to do so this offseason. As we detailed on Tuesday, Lance Stephenson, Jeremy Lin, Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant, and Ian Clark are among the many players who have signed with CBA clubs within the last couple months. Smith has also played in China once before, having joined the Zhejiang Golden Bulls during the 2011 NBA lockout.