Earlier this month, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that J.R. Smith was expected to get a workout with the Los Angeles Lakers, and the “J.R. to Los Angeles” speculation began. LeBron James added fuel to those rumors when he randomly posted about Smith on his Instagram story a week later.
“We called him 911 because when there’s an emergency, give it to him and it’s cash,” the Instagram post read.
Ironically, it was an Instagram post from Smith that caused those rumors to come to an abrupt halt. During an Instagram Live Q&A on Tuesday, Smith said that he hasn’t been contacted by the Lakers or Clippers.
Smith could just be playing it coy in an effort to not upset anyone on the Lakers that he’d potentially replace, but it would actually make sense that no one from the team has reached out to him yet.
The only meeting the Lakers reportedly have scheduled is with free agent guard Dion Waiters, who won’t meet with the team until March 2, the day after playoff eligibility waiver deadline. Both Smith and Waiters have already cleared waivers, so that deadline doesn’t mean anything to them. What it means for the Lakers, though, is that Waiters and Smith would become options in the event that no one pokes free between now and Sunday’s deadline.
Given the fact that Waiters will be meeting with the Lakers for the second time on Tuesday, it’s safe to assume that Smith is further down their free agent wishlist, which makes sense when you consider he’s 34 years old and hasn’t played since Nov. 11, 2018. However, if Smith is even 75% of the player he was during his three consecutive NBA Finals runs with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-17, he’s an upgrade over Troy Daniels, who he’d likely replace.
Like James alluded to in his Instagram post, Smith is someone that can create something out of nothing, and that’s something the Lakers have lacked in their second unit. Smith is also one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in NBA history, as he’s ranked 13th on the all-time 3-point field goal leaderboard, according to Basketball Reference.
Smith likely wouldn’t play a ton of minutes because of the depth the Lakers have at shooting guard between Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but given his experience at the highest level, he wouldn’t be a bad guy to have at the end of the bench, at least compared to Daniels. Again, though, he probably won’t even be an option unless Waiters has a bad meeting.
In other words, it’s too soon to buy your custom J.R. jersey.