The Cleveland Cavaliers once held out hope of trading JR Smith for something of legitimate value without foregoing their financial flexibility. Now that no such a trade has presented itself, they have reportedly waived Smith, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Now that Smith is a free agent, many penciled him onto the Los Angeles Lakers roster, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN says not so fast:
Once guard JR Smith clears waivers, the Los Angeles Lakers are an unlikely destination, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 15, 2019
And thus dies any chance of Smith and LeBron James recreating this incredible meme in L.A.:
This really shouldn’t come as any giant surprise, as general manager Rob Pelinka had explicitly stated previously that the Lakers would be keeping that last roster spot open. With someone like Andre Iguodala potentially hitting the market, it just doesn’t make much sense to utilize the final spot on a question mark like Smith.
Cleveland essentially exiled Smith after 11 games last season once it became clear the team would be going in a different direction. Spending that long away from the game leads to some very important questions as to whether Smith is still an NBA rotation player. Woj’s report seems to indicate the Lakers’ wariness of those questions.
Beyond all that, the Lakers just don’t really have a need for Smith. I mean, they don’t really have a need for Rajon Rondo, either, but that’s besides the point — and at least he was in the NBA last season. Right now, the Lakers need another defensive presence at the wing position more than just about anything, and Smith is not that.
Perhaps had Smith been available before the Lakers signed Troy Daniels, he might’ve made a little more sense, but the Lakers don’t really have a spot on the roster for a shooting guard who would be a liability on defense and has been away from the game for as long as Smith has.
Maybe some other team takes a chance on Smith and he’s able to revive his career to a certain extent, but it appears that team won’t be the Lakers.
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