LeBron James hasn’t been to the NBA Finals since he had J.R. Smith as a teammate, so maybe it’s with that in mind that the Lakers have decided they want the pipe. According to multiple reports, the Lakers are expected to add Smith to replace Avery Bradley when they head to Disney World for the resumed NBA season.
The Lakers, league sources say, are expected to finalize a rest-of-the-season contract with J.R. Smith before Tuesday's 11:59 PM ET closure of the NBA's "transaction window"— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 29, 2020
Rosters for the NBA restart at Walt Disney World must be turned in to the league office Wednesday
Lakers and Smith have been in talks since Avery Bradley opted-out of the restart, and those will culminate with a deal that will include him on the roster Lakers will submit to NBA on Wednesday, per sources. https://t.co/vtiqcfBvCm— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2020
The Lakers will not have to cut Bradley to make room on the roster, and will be able to use a temporary replacement spot for Smith for the remainder of the season:
The contract can only be for the remainder of the season and for the prorated minimum- based on 20 days of service. Salary is $289,803 for Smith. The salary does not count toward the cap and Smith does not get credit when it comes to bird rights for the Lakers. https://t.co/ZfB8SH0j4a— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) June 29, 2020
The only impact on Avery Bradley is that he’s ineligible for the rest of the season. They don’t need to cut him.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) June 29, 2020
Smith almost instantaneously became the heavily reported favorite to join the Lakers’ roster as soon as Bradley decided to sit out of the NBA’s restart out of concern for the health of his son, and his agent, Rich Paul — who also represents James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dion Waiters and Talen Horton-Tucker on the Lakers — reportedly began talking to Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka immediately following Bradley’s decision.
Smith most recently played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2018-19 season, the better part of two years ago, but only played 11 games before being sent away from the team as they sought a trade (they ultimately waived him last summer). Smith averaged 8.3 points per game the year before (his last full season), shooting 37.5% from behind the arc as the Cavs made it to the Finals.
The Lakers had interest in Smith back around the trade deadline, working him out as they decided between him and Waiters at the time. They ultimately went with Waiters then, but Smith reportedly did impress the front office and told them he’d accept any role. It seems like that familiarity and previous prep work may have been a benefit for him here.
NBA teams will resume mandatory individual workouts on July 1, and travel to Orlando for the restart the following week. The season is slated to begin again on July 30.
This developing story will update with more information.