J.R. Smith is without an NBA team. It doesn’t appear as if there’s a clear-cut timeframe for when he’ll receive his next opportunity.
Last season, Smith only played 11 games after the Cleveland Cavaliers gave him a leave of absence until the team was able to find a trade partner.
That never happened and in July, per Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, the Cavs and J.R. Smith reached a buyout that will pay him the remaining $4.3 million in guaranteed money over the next three years.
Since the buyout, the 2013 NBA Sixth Man of the Year recipient hasn’t landed with a team.
The Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets were suitors of Smith over the summer.
And the Lakers?
“I think the Lakers are giving him a serious look,” Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast this summer.
“Because I think they want to go into the season with the roster they have. Check the first 10, 15 games, see how things are going, check the list of numbers and percentages and see what they lack before they decide what they’re gonna do.”
The only thing with J.R. is you have to see where he is mentally, if he’s gonna come in and behave like a model citizen. But, you can’t deny his skill-set, or that he’s one of the best catch and shoot players in the league; championship pedigree. He knows how to play at a high level. So, I actually thought he’d be gone by now.”
So what’s next?
J.R. Smith Needs LeBron James’ ‘Seal of Approval’ for Lakers, Says Analyst
Appearing on the Scoop B Radio Podcast recently, the Washington Post’s Ben Golliver had a similar line of thinking.
“It’s a really tough one,” Golliver told me.
“Unless you get LeBron’s seal of approval, I don’t know who he helps, you know? And I think it’s unfortunate, I think it’s a situation where there has been red flags with him that have accumulated over the course of his career. I think that sometimes there’s a risk or verse approach from front offices where they just think like: ‘look, he might be able to help us, but he can really make me look bad if things don’t go well, so I don’t wanna risk it.’ You know? So I think it takes advocacy from one of his friends, whether if it’s a Kevin Love or a LeBron James to sort of get him into a spot.” Golliver stated.
He expanded on that by admitting that he wouldn’t be completely surprised if Smith never found a landing spot.
“If he never found a landing spot it wouldn’t totally surprise me,” Golliver stated. “A player like Nick Young is in that similar type of situation right now. You see that sometimes and that’s why I think there’s a lot to be learned from the Vince Carter’s of the world. Or some of these other vets that really hang on. Juwan Howard is another one from a few years ago, when he was playing until he was almost 40. There’s a lot to be learned from those guys, right? It’s a very subjective process when you get late into your career in terms of like, are you going to able to convince them to keep giving you those veteran’s minimum contracts? And I think that sometimes it’s about your consistency, your professionalism, your personality and your reputation that can keep guys in the league.”
Smith, 34, was the New Orleans Hornets’ 18th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft out of St. Benedict’s Preparatory High School in Newark, New Jersey. His brother and former New York Knicks teammate Chris Smith once told Scoop B Radio that J.R. Smith was misunderstood. “I think people got it confused about the hanging out and the partying,” he told me.
Many criticized Smith for partying too much and not focusing on the game of basketball during his time playing for the Knicks; something that Chris Smith refutes. “It’s evident in New York everybody hangs out and parties,” he said.
“It’s just the level and the platform of the people that you hang out with. Pictures are being taken and stuff like that so everybody is going to think that you’re always out and if the media portrays you in one way people will take it and run with it so that only leaves people who are not in your life to believe that they are in your life.”
J.R. Smith played in 971 NBA games and averaged 12.5 points per game in stints with the Hornets, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers.