With Avery Bradley opting out of the NBA’s restart in Orlando, citing family health concerns, the Los Angeles Lakers needed to use the league’s week-long transaction window to find some more backcourt help.
Immediately, speculation began about J.R. Smith being the guy they’d turn to, given his connection to LeBron James and that he had worked out previously for the Lakers and impressed, even though L.A. chose to bring in Dion Waiters at that time instead. Smith has remained in L.A. to workout and stay in shape in hopes of finding a home for the restart and it now appears that home will be with the Lakers, as Marc Stein of the New York Times reports the two sides are expected to finalize a deal before Tuesday night’s deadline.
The Lakers, league sources say, are expected to finalize a rest-of-the-season contract with J.R. Smith before Tuesday's 11:59 PM ET closure of the NBA's "transaction window"
Rosters for the NBA restart at Walt Disney World must be turned in to the league office Wednesday
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 29, 2020
That report was confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and it’s safe to assume we’ll get Smith and James reunited in July.
Free agent guard J.R. Smith and the Lakers are working through final steps of a deal today and he will be added to roster for the Orlando restart, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2020
The question, of course, is how much the Lakers will use Smith — and Waiters — and the answer to both might simply be situational. Smith will be brought in to shoot three-pointers, and as long as he can be effective doing so he’ll likely find himself some minutes as the Lakers are a relatively pedestrian 17th in the NBA in three-point percentage at 35.5 percent. Bradley was their third-best three-point shooter among regular rotation players, and they’ll need Smith (and guys like Quinn Cook) to likely step in to fill that role some.