A new report indicates that free agent guard J.R. Smith will work out for the Los Angeles Lakers sometime this week.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 2, 2020
The 34-year-old Smith was released last summer by the Cleveland Cavaliers after the team’s countless efforts to trade him proved to be fruitless. The Cavaliers had banished Smith from the team in November 2018 after he accused it of trying to tank the season.
Smith has had a checkered NBA history, with the Cavaliers the fourth different team he’s played for since entering the NBA in 2004.
The Cavaliers acquired Smith from the New York Knicks in January 2015, with his time in New York marked by off-the-court issues.
During much of Smith’s time in Cleveland, that past reputation was held in check. Part of the reason for his improvement was attributed to his then-teammate, LeBron James.
James and Smith were a part of all four of the Cavaliers’ trips to the NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018, with the Cavs winning their first-ever title in 2016.
However, one of Smith’s most notorious moments on the court took place in Game 1 of the 2018 finals. In the closing seconds of regulation, Smith forgot that the game was tied and attempted to run out the clock until he realized his mistake.
The Cavaliers lost that game in overtime and were swept in four games by Golden State. James was visibly angry at the time of Smith’s mistake and ended up leaving to sign with the Lakers one month later.
Exactly what Smith has left is a mystery. Besides not having played in nearly 16 months, Smith’s streaky shooting and decline in production over the past few years may end up having the Lakers look elsewhere.
Still, Smith has a 37.3 percent career shooting average on 3-pointers and has previously played in crucial playoff games. He would come at minimal cost to the Lakers, who are looking to make a deep run when the playoffs begin next month.