Recent rumors suggest that the Houston Rockets are looking to add some veteran depth at guard by trading for J.R. Smith, who last played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hoops Hype updated its trade rumor timeline for the 32-year-old Smith on Wednesday, noting that ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on the latest episode of his podcast, The Lowe Post, that the Rockets have “kicked the tires” on the Cavs shooting guard. This comes on the heels of rumors that the Rockets are interested in Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Kent Bazemore, as reported on Monday by the Inquisitr.
No further information, such as whom the Rockets might have to give up to acquire Smith, was mentioned, but Bleacher Report predicted that he could be of help as a reserve shooting guard and small forward as he backs up James Harden and, presumably, Carmelo Anthony at both respective positions.
Although Smith gained notoriety for the wrong reasons for his mental lapses in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, Bleacher Report wrote that he still had a decent season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 8.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game as he started 61 of the 80 games he appeared in. Smith is also a former first-round draft pick who chose the NBA over college ball after a standout high school career in New Jersey and has won one NBA championship and a Sixth Man of the Year award. He currently sits at eighth place among active players, with a total of 1,917 three-point field goals made in 14 pro seasons.
As further noted by Bleacher Report, Smith’s existing contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers will have him earning $14.72 million in the 2018-19 season. The $15.68 million he is expected to earn in 2019-20 is only partially guaranteed.
The rumors of the Houston Rockets targeting J.R. Smith as a trade prospect came hours before reports suggested that the Cleveland Cavaliers are finalizing their plans to acquire David Nwaba as a free agent. The 25-year-old Nwaba, like Smith, is a shooting guard, and he is expected to join the Cavaliers after averaging 7.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for the Chicago Bulls in the 2017-18 NBA season.
According to Bleacher Report, it would make sense if the Houston Rockets trade for J.R. Smith, as keeping the same backcourt lineup might result in the Cavaliers being little more than “fringe playoff contenders” as they deal with superstar LeBron James’ move to the Los Angeles Lakers via free agency. Earlier this summer, the Cavaliers made another big step to freshen up their backcourt rotation when they selected the University of Alabama’s Collin Sexton eighth overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. Sexton, who averaged 19.2 points and 3.6 assists in his lone season with the Crimson Tide, is expected to compete with veteran George Hill for minutes at the point guard position.