With reports suggesting that free-agent guard J.R. Smith is close to signing with the Los Angeles Lakers for the rest of the 2019-20 season, one of the team’s key rotation players, forward/guard Danny Green, offered his thoughts on the matter in a recent podcast appearance.
As quoted by ClutchPoints, Green appeared on Tuesday’s edition of the Battle for L.A. podcast, where he discussed multiple topics with hosts Tomer Azarly and Ryan Ward. Talking about the possibility of Smith joining the Lakers in time for the resumption of the season later this month, the veteran wingman said that he’s a fan of the 34-year-old’s game, adding that he “deserves an opportunity” to keep on playing in the NBA, much like other longtime mainstays such as Carmelo Anthony and Jamal Crawford.
“Professionally been in this league for a long time, I have seen him, we from the same area, he’s from the northeast, I’ve seen him workout here and there. He’s ready, he looks like he’s been ready for this call for a minute. We’ll see how it goes, it’s above my pay grade. I don’t make those decisions. But if he does get the opportunity, whether it’s with us or with another team. He’ll be a great addition to wherever he goes.”
Given that Green, much like Smith, is frequently used as a shooting guard, it’s not clear whether both veterans will be in direct competition with each other for minutes once the restart is underway.
As of Monday, reports suggested that the Lakers were in the process of finalizing a deal with Smith, who has not played in the NBA since November 2018, when he was still suiting up for the Cleveland Cavaliers. As of this writing, the transaction has yet to be made official, but the former Sixth Man of the Year replied to several tweets from former and current NBA players who congratulated him in advance of his expected return to the league.
If Smith does end up on Los Angeles’ roster, he will serve as a replacement for combo guard Avery Bradley, who opted out of the season restart due to family concerns. While he has solid career averages of 12.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists and a shooting percentage of 37.3 percent from three-point range, the former high school phenom struggled toward the end of his stint with the Cavs, per Basketball-Reference. In 11 games in the 2018-19 season, Smith was limited to just 6.7 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game and shot just 34.2 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc.