J.R. Smith

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.

Western Notes: Rockets, Wolves, Kawhi

Eric Gordon could end up in the backup wing spot for the Rockets when the season begins, as Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes. Houston has depth at the guard position but lacks it in the three/four spots.

Houston still has interest in Andre Iguodala, though Memphis appears to be holding out for a first-round pick, which could be a deal-breaker. J.R. Smith is a possibility. He had his best season under coach Mike D’Antoni when the pair was in New York, though Iko cautions that he hasn’t heard any new developments when it comes to bringing the 3-point marksman to Houston.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Iko doesn’t see Kevin Love as a realistic target for the Rockets, as he explains in the same piece. Love’s salary, which comes in at just under $29MM for the upcoming year, makes a trade difficult for the two parties.
  • Britt Robson of The Athletic examines how the Timberwolves’ current roster fits in with the team’s blueprint for the future. The team failed to pair Karl-Anthony Towns with another All-Star but smartly opted against overspending on middling talent. Minnesota’s 2019 free agent spending spree wasn’t a wild one, as the club brought in five players who combined will make approximately $11MM this upcoming season.
  • Kawhi Leonard attempted to get the Spurs to trade for Paul George while he was in San Antonio, as he tells ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (h/t Justin Russo on Twitter). Leonard was originally drafted with the No. 15 overall pick by Indiana, the team George previously played for. The Pacers traded Leonard’s rights on draft night, but George wishes Indiana had kept him, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com relays. “It seems like this was destiny that we were supposed to play together,” George said of his new Clippers teammate.

J.R. Smith Meeting With Bucks

After clearing waivers on Wednesday, veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith has lined up a free agent meeting with the Bucks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the sit-down will happen today.

As Charania notes, Milwaukee remains in the market for a wing shooter. However, the team has little financial flexibility, having used up its cap space and its room exception. While the Bucks can’t offer more than the veteran’s minimum, Smith is unlikely to command more than that at this stage in his career.

Released this week by the Cavaliers, Smith hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since last November, when he parted ways with the team for the remainder of the season. In the first month of the 2018/19 season, he appeared in 11 games (20.2 MPG), averaging 6.7 PPG on .342/.308/.800 shooting. Those numbers were among the worst of his 15-year NBA career, though the sample size was extremely limited.

In his last full season in 2017/18, Smith recorded 8.3 PPG with a .375 3PT% in 80 games (28.1 MPG).

The idea of the Lakers as a landing spot for Smith was a popular topic of speculation, given his connection to LeBron James and Klutch Sports. But a report surfaced shortly after the Cavs waived him indicating that the Lakers were an unlikely destination for the veteran.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Smith, Sexton

Ben Simmons‘ near-$170MM extension with the Sixers may sound like an exorbitant amount for the 22-year-old, but Derek Bodner of The Athletic argue that the deal could turn into a bargain.

Simmons’ 2020/21 salary (estimated to start at $29.25MM) currently places him 30th among his NBA peers that season. Surely other players will sign top-end deals next summer, dropping him lower in the rankings.

The point guard still needs to further develop his jumper to become great, Bodner cautions. However, Simmons has all the tools to easily become a top-10 talent for the Sixers and should that happen, he would be severely underpaid.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • If J.R. Smith signs with another team, the Cavaliers will recoup the $500K they agreed to give him for extending his guaranteed date via setoff, ESPN Bobby Marks notes on Twitter. Cleveland waived Smith on Monday.
  • The Cavaliers didn’t play Collin Sexton in Summer League because the point guard didn’t have much to gain from the experience, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com explains. The level of competition in Las Vegas and Utah isn’t very high and it was much more prudent to allow Sexton to join the team in those locations but not risk injury during live action.
  • The Cavaliers are fans of Jaron Blossomgame, who played for their Summer League team, Fedor relays in the same piece. Blossomgame spent time with the club under a two-way deal in 2018/19 and is a candidate for a roster spot this upcoming season.

Western Notes: Smith, Cuban, Fertitta, Daniels, Clarke

The Lakers are unlikely to sign shooting guard J.R. Smith once he clears waivers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Cavaliers cut Smith loose on Monday after failing to find a trade partner. The lack of interest shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the Lakers have signed shooting guards Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Troy Daniels in free agency.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined $50K by the league for leaking information from the Board of Governors meeting, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports. Cuban revealed the vote to allow coaches to challenge an official’s ruling next season.
  • The league has also fined Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta $25K for making public comments about the Russell WestbrookChris Paul swap before it was officially completed, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.
  • Troy Daniels chose the Lakers over the Warriors and Thunder, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Daniels was wooed by Anthony Davis during the decision-making process. Daniels signed a one-year, minimum salary contract.
  • Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, the 21st player selected in the draft, has been named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal relays. Clarke averaged 14.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 22.0 MPG over six games.

Cavaliers Waive J.R. Smith

4:03pm: Despite their best efforts to find a favorable trade involving Smith, the Cavaliers came up empty and have waived the veteran shooting guard, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Smith, who will receive his $4.37MM partial guarantee from the Cavs, is on track to clear waivers on Wednesday.

8:46am: Barring a last-minute trade, the Cavaliers are expected to waive J.R. Smith today, reports Joe Vardon of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (via Twitter), Smith’s $15.68MM salary for 2019/20 is currently guaranteed for $4.37MM. That partial guarantee would increase to $5.12MM if he remains under contract beyond today. His deal would become fully guaranteed if he’s not waived by July 31.

By cutting Smith today, the Cavs could slip about $2.85MM below the luxury tax line, assuming they stretch his partial guarantee across three seasons, Marks notes (via Twitter).

Smith, who turns 34 in September, hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since last November, having reached an agreement to part ways with the rebuilding Cavaliers. However, Cleveland chose not to release him until now because his contract – signed under the old CBA – had the potential to be used in a trade with a team looking to create cap flexibility.

In an article published in March, we explained the appeal of Smith’s partially guaranteed deal, while also outlining why its value as a trade chip may be limited due to the Cavs’ proximity to the tax threshold for 2019/20.

Smith’s contract was originally scheduled to become fully guaranteed on June 30, but he agreed to push his guarantee deadline back in exchange for a slight increase to his partial guarantee. As we relayed over the weekend, Cleveland still had no luck finding a taker for him on the trade market.

Assuming Smith is officially released today, he’ll clear waivers on Wednesday and will become an unrestricted free agent at that point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.