Los Angeles Lakers

J.R. Smith finalizing contract with Los Angeles Lakers

The J.R. Smith will reportedly reunite with former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James, joining the Lakers for their playoff run.

Free-agent shooting guard J.R. Smith is reportedly finalizing a rest-of-season contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. The transaction is expected to be made official before the transaction window deadline Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET. This is in the wake of Avery Bradley opting out of playing in Orlando last Wednesday because of his son’s underlying medical condition.

Smith wasn’t signed to an NBA roster this season after playing the past four and a half years with a Cleveland Cavaliers squad which won four Eastern Conference championships and the 2016 title.

In 255 regular-season games with the Cavs, the 16-year veteran averaged 10.3 points on 40.1 percent shooting, including 40.4 percent from long range. In 79 postseason games, Smith netted 10.2 points on 41.2 percent shooting and 40.6 percent from distance.

What can J.R. Smith offer the Los Angeles Lakers?

Smith’s best game with the Cavaliers was on Jan. 13, 2015 when he dropped 29 points and eight 3-pointers against the Phoenix Suns. He’ll provide much-needed shooting and wing depth for a Lakers team which ranks 17th in the league in 3-point percentage at 35.5 percent.

As of now, their best shooter is Jared Dudley at 47.1 percent on 0.9 attempts. Expect Smith, who averages 5.3 long-range shots for his career, to hoist a healthy amount of 3s. It will most likely be off the bench since the Lakers have better options for a starting shooting guard such as Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma. Smith’s strengths fit the Lakers bench more as well since scoring from the second unit has been another weakness (Kuzma is the squad’s leading scorer off the bench with 12.5 points per game).

The Lakers are scheduled to resume their season on July 30 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. ET and will air on the Turner Sports Network. If Smith does indeed play, it will be his first appearance in an NBA game since Nov. 19, 2018.

Next: Predicting the Lakers’ final 8 games of the season

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