After months of trying to trade shooting guard J.R. Smith, the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly waived the veteran in recent days, thus allowing him to enter free agency and sign with a new team once he clears waivers. But while the Los Angeles Lakers have frequently been mentioned as a potential destination for the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner, the latest rumors suggest that it doesn’t seem likely that Smith will get a chance to reunite with his former Cavs teammate LeBron James in the purple and gold.
In a tweet posted on Monday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski cited league sources, who believe that the Lakers are an “unlikely destination” for Smith, despite the various rumors linking him to the team. This comes weeks after Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes suggested the opposite, speculating that Smith could be one of the “complementary pieces” the Lakers sign in the aftermath of last month’s trade for New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, as reported previously by The Inquisitr.
According to Silver Screen and Roll, Wojnarowski’s latest update on J.R. Smith isn’t surprising, given how Lakers general manager has promised to keep the team’s last remaining roster spot “open.” As there’s a chance that players such as Andre Iguodala may be available — assuming the Memphis Grizzlies buy his contract out — the outlet opined that it wouldn’t be a wise idea to sign a “question mark” like Smith to team with James, Davis, and the rest of what should be a much-improved Lakers roster.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 15, 2019
Further commenting on why it believes the Lakers are better off without Smith, Silver Screen and Roll added that the team might have been able to benefit from him had they not signed journeyman guard Troy Daniels early on in this year’s free agency period. However, the Lakers-centric blog added that the Lakers’ top priority at the moment should be signing a defensive-minded wing player, as opposed to someone like Smith who “would be a liability on defense” on top of being rusty from all those months of inactivity.
Although Smith has had a solid NBA career since entering the NBA in 2004 out of high school, he had an abbreviated, yet difficult season for the Cavaliers in 2018-19, playing in only 11 games before he was deactivated indefinitely. While Cleveland management hoped to get something in return for the disgruntled shooting guard, Smith ended up sitting out the rest of the season for a team that finished with a 19-63 win-loss record, just one year after making it to the NBA Finals against the eventual 2018 league champions, the Golden State Warriors.