A month before the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season, Coach Frank Vogel and the Los Angeles Lakers faced a huge dilemma when veteran shooting guard Avery Bradley opted out of the league’s restart. Citing family concerns as his main motive, Bradley decided that it would best not to rejoin the Lakers when the season resumes on July 30. Losing Bradley is undeniably tough for the Lakers since he was one of their regular starters before the NBA went on a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Luckily, it didn’t take long for the Lakers to find a player who could fill the hole Bradley left in their wing. During the NBA’s transaction window, the Lakers decided to sign LeBron James’ former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate JR Smith. In a recent video conference with reporters, Vogel talked about the addition of Smith to the roster.
Though Smith is yet to have his official practice as a Laker, Vogel is already expressing strong confidence that the veteran shooting guard will be a huge help in achieving their goal of fully dominating the Western Conference and winning the NBA championship title this season.
“I haven’t had a chance to work with J.R. yet,” Vogel said, as quoted by Christian Rivas of SB Nation’s Silver Screen and Roll. “I did speak to him, but it was just on a ‘welcome to the team’ type of basis, type of conversation. We’ll get into all of that when he’s fully acclimated and able to be with our team — in particular, when we get down to Orlando. In terms of what he brings to the table: the experience factor. This guy’s a big time player. He’s proven it over the course of his career. We know he can help us. We almost added him earlier in the year when we added Dion Waiters, and now we have the luxury of having both.”
It’s hard to blame Vogel for having that much confidence in Smith. While most people only remember Smith as the player that cost the Cavaliers Game 1 of the 2018 Finals against the Golden State Warriors, those who watched him play with James in Cleveland for four years know what the Lakers are getting from the veteran shooting guard.
The addition of a veteran with plenty of championship experience like Smith can greatly benefit the Lakers, especially in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Smith may not only give the Lakers a very reliable option from beyond the arc, but also a great defender in the perimeter. Also, with the four years that they spent in Cleveland, Smith has earned a deep knowledge of how to efficiently coexist with James on the court.
Unlike most people, Vogel isn’t expecting Smith to be Bradley; he just needs to do what he usually does. Also, Vogel is very optimistic that Smith and the other new faces will have an easy time familiarizing themselves with the team’s “pretty simple system.”