LeBron James and J.R. Smith are reunited, but this time in the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers officially announced the signing of Smith on Wednesday, making it official with the 34-year-old guard with a press release. The opportunity to sign Smith arose for LA when Avery Bradley told the team he would not be joining them in Orlando for the NBA restart.
Lakers superstar LeBron James won the NBA title with Smith while in Cleveland in 2016. James is pumped to have his right-hand man by his side for another championship campaign.
“Yessir bro!!!!!” James wrote. “Right back at it like we never left.”
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.
Smith contract is for $289,803 and will now replace Avery Bradley on the eligible roster of players for Orlando. Smith is still being paid $1,456,667 this season (through 2021-22) from the Cavaliers. https://t.co/1dJdTb7Hk3
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 1, 2020
Lakers Don’t Want JR Smith to be Avery Bradley
For his career, Smith is shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range and averages 12.5 points per game. However — like Young — he’s rusty. 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.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel expressed some of his expectations for Smith during a conference call on Wednesday.
“We’re not asking him to come in and be Avery Bradley,” Vogel said. “He’s going to come in and be JR Smith.”
#Lakers coach Frank Vogel on JR Smith: "We're not asking him to come in and be Avery Bradley. He's going to come in and be JR Smith."
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) July 1, 2020
Bradley had started 44 games for the Lakers this season, averaging 8.6 points and providing a solid defensive presence.
Vogel also revealed that the team had considered signing Smith during the regular season back in March, but instead opted for Dion Waiters.
Waiters averages 13.2 for his career and was the No. 4 overall pick in 2012 out of Syracuse.
“He’s definitely a player that can help us,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said shortly after the team signed Waiters. “He’s got the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack from the wing position. He can play off the ball with his catch-and-shoot game as well. He’s an athletic, tough defender. He’s definitely someone that can help us.”
Frank Vogel Clarifies Dwight Howard’s Status
While the Lakers are excited to add Smith to the roster, general manager Rob Pelinka said it’s still unclear whether big man Dwight Howard will join the team in Orlando and said there is an “extenuating circumstance” surrounding his return. Pelinka is referring to the mother of Howard’s six-year-old son, Melissa Rios, who passed away at 31.
Vogel clarified the team’s situation with Howard, expressing some optimism that he’ll be inside the bubble when things get going.
“We’ve been in communication with Dwight the whole way,” Vogel said. “We don’t know what the level of participation is yet. He wants to play. We’re hopeful he’s able to join us. We’re hopeful and optimistic that he’ll be able to join us in Orlando.”
Howard has had a resurgent season back in Los Angeles, providing a spark at the center position off the bench with 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.
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