No, you didn’t just take a bunch of mushrooms and visit my site. Yes, you did read the title to this blog post correctly. That’s right, the Lakers may be tryin’ to get that pipe. With Avery Bradley deciding he will not join the Lakers in Orlando for the NBA’s scheduled restart in July, they are, potentially, in the market for another guard to replace him on the roster. And that player could be JR Smith…
First things first: this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Smith worked out for the Lakers earlier this season, ultimately being passed when the team chose Dion Waiters instead. Smith, a Rich Paul/Klutch Sports client and former LeBron James teammate in Cleveland, could now get another look. Good for him.
Would it be good for the Lakers, though? Well, yes and no.
I’m not going to lie, here. The prospect of having another credible 3-point shooter and someone with a ton of playoff experience playing next to LeBron doesn’t sound so bad. Smith can be an explosive scorer and his ability to get hot from behind the arc makes him the type of threat that defenses won’t just ignore out of habit. The benefits that can come from these positives, particularly if playing next to LeBron and AD, can be more significant than those Smith can provide through his own individual exploits.
That said, Smith hasn’t played NBA basketball in a long time. How long, you ask? November 19, 2018 was the last time Smith stepped on an NBA court and logged actual minutes. That night in Detroit he played just under 6 minutes, making one of his four FG’s for two points. By the time NBA games start again, it would be nearly 20 months since he last played a game and that was for a bad Cavs team. Asking him to come back from that type of layoff and be a contributor on a playoff team is a bit much.
In other words, even if Smith were signed, don’t expect much from him and, honestly, I would probably hope he doesn’t play at all. The Lakers aren’t the deepest team when it comes to guards, but if we’re talking about end of the bench options, I’d much rather throw Quinn Cook into the mix than ask JR Smith to log playoff minutes. I’m not saying Smith can’t be an emergency guard option, but I hope that’s all he is.
Lastly, if the Lakers do go in Smith’s direction there will surely be jokes/concerns about character concerns and life “in the bubble” for Smith. Personally, while I enjoy some good natured humor as much as the next guy, I don’t really have those concerns with Smith at this point in his career. I think the leadership structure of the team–with LeBron at the center of it all–is enough to keep everyone on the same page, especially when you consider the stakes of this entire venture.
In any event, we’ll see what happens with JR. More to come if/when a move is decided.