The NBA rumor mill continues to churn, despite the fact that the upcoming season is months away. The latest buzz has free agent guard J.R. Smith heading to the Los Angeles Lakers and in turn, Nick Young could be replacing him in Cleveland.
According to Sportsrageous, the Lakers are interested in signing J.R. Smith as a free agent. The Cavs would like to bring Smith back for their defense of the 2016 NBA Championship, but he won’t come cheap. Smith has seen big free agency dollars going to lesser players this summer, and he has set his asking price at $15 million per season. That figure might be too rich for Cleveland, and that could open the door for other teams to woo J.R. Smith.
If the Lakers are able to acquire Smith, the NBA rumor mill suggests that the team will consider making room for him by waiving Nick Young. Young has two years and approximately $11 million remaining on his current contract. With Los Angeles already investing heavily in combo guard Jordan Clarkson this summer (four years, $50 million), it appears that Young would be the odd man out if J.R. Smith joins the Lakers.
J.R. Smith and the Cleveland Cavaliers have been in talks since the NBA’s free agency period began on July 1, but the two sides are far apart, as reported by UPI. The Cavs have already gone to their backup plan, acquiring veteran Mike Dunleavy from the Chicago Bulls earlier this month. Both Smith and the Cavaliers claim they want the shooting guard to remain in Cleveland, but it does not seem likely at this point.
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Even though J.R. Smith is a free agent and Nick Young is under contract with the Lakers, this could essentially become a trade involving Cleveland and Los Angeles. If Young is released by the Lakers, the Cavs are reportedly interested in signing Nick Young to replace Smith. Young would be a much more affordable alternative to Smith, and Young could be effective in Smith’s former role as a spot scorer in a talent-laden Cavaliers lineup.
J.R. Smith went from high school to the NBA in 2004 after being chosen 18th overall by the New Orleans Hornets in that year’s NBA Draft. Smith has been a consistent double-figure scorer throughout his career, averaging 13.2 points per game over 12 seasons in the league.
Smith posted a career-high 18.1 points per contest as a member of the New York Knicks during the 2012-13 campaign. During the Cavs’ championship season in 2015-16, he had a per-game scoring average of 12.4 points while starting all 77 games he played in this past year.
Nick Young declared for the NBA Draft following his junior season at USC, and was taken by the Washington Wizards with the No. 16 pick in the first round. Like J.R. Smith, Young has been known primarily as a scorer during his nine years in the NBA (11.8 career points per game average).
In his first season with the Lakers in 2013-14, Young averaged an impressive 17.9 points per contest off the bench, but has seen his productivity decline in the years since. Young’s shooting efficiency and scoring dropped significantly in 2015-16, as he only averaged 7.3 points per game this past season.
In the NBA, rumors like this one come along on a regular basis. However, this one may have some traction as it makes sense for both teams. What do you think the odds are that J.R. Smith and Nick Young will trade uniforms next season?
[Photo by Ron Schwane/AP Images]