J.R. Smith Provides First-Look in Lakers Gear

Getty Lakers guard J.R. Smith

The newest Los Angeles Laker is officially in the building. Recently signed free agent guard J.R. Smith shared some footage on Instagram on Monday showing himself in purple and gold gear inside of the team’s practice facility.

“Is this what y’all been waiting to see,” Smith said in the clip, with his new No. 21 as a caption.

The Lakers officially announced the signing of Smith last week as a replacement for starting guard Avery Bradley, who chose to sit out the NBA restart to be with his family.

“Watching him workout yesterday and today, it’s clear that he’s done a remarkable job of staying in shape and ready,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said on Monday. “Watching him work out, hey, his nickname is ‘Swish’ for a reason. He’s a shotmaker. I think he’s really gonna help us.”

Smith’s deal is pro-rated for the veteran’s minimum, paying him $289,803 for the remainder of the season in Orlando. Smith will still haul in nearly $1.5 million from the Cavaliers this season on his old deal (h/t Bobby Marks).

Lakers Don’t Expect J.R. Smith to Fill Avery Bradley’s Role

Smith will provide some extra shooting for the Lakers off the bench. He hits his 3-pointers at a 37.3 percent for his career and averages 12.5 points per game. He also has a wealth of playoff experience, having played with LeBron James in Cleveland, winning the title in 2016.

However, Smith only played in 11 games as a member of the Cavaliers during the 2018-19 season and hasn’t played in the NBA this year, so it might take some time to find his stroke.

“We’re not going to ask him to come in and be Avery Bradley,” Vogel told reporters last week. “He’s going to come in and be J.R. Smith. Just fill that position more than fill that role. Avery’s loss is a obviously a huge loss for us, but we’re a ‘next man up’ team. J.R.’s going to come in and help fill that void, but we have a lot of guys that can come in and do the same.”

The Lakers had showed interest in Smith during the season, but chose instead to sign Dion Waiters. Vogel is pumped to now have both veteran shooters on his Lakers squad.

“In terms of what he brings to the table: the experience factor,” Vogel said. “This guy’s a big time player. He’s proven it over the course of his career. We know he can help us. We almost added him earlier in the year when we added Dion Waiters, and now we have the luxury of having both.”

Lakers Are Title Favorites Behind LeBron James, Anthony Davis

Lakers LeBron James and Anthony Davis

GettyLeBron James and Anthony Davis

At the time of the stoppage, the Lakers led the Western Conference with a 49-14 record. Now with the season restarting in Orlando with 22 teams, the Lakers are still the favorite to take home the title at +200, per Odds Shark. The Milwaukee Bucks (+280) and Los Angeles Clippers (+300) are the next in line before a big drop off, with the Celtics at +1200.

What may swing the odds is a rash of positive COVID-19 tests at various team facilities this week. Both the Bucks and Clippers shut down their buildings after positive tests and its unknown if players’ availability will be affected.

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