Veteran guard JR Smith is still a free agent after winning a title last season with the Los Angeles Lakers and there hasn’t been a ton of bites this offseason the 35-year-old looks for another roster spot.
If Smith is to make it back into the league, Bleacher Report’s Erik Beaston sees it being back with the Lakers for one last run with his buddy LeBron James.
There are not a ton of teams beating down the door of a 16-year veteran whose numbers have diminished and whose playing time was minimal. With that said, the Lakers still have one veteran’s minimum deal left to issue, and given Smith’s chemistry and friendship with the team’s leader and biggest star, there is plenty of reason to believe he will be back for one last run.
JR Smith Didn’t Have Big Role During Bubble Run
There are arguments for Smith. He’s a known commodity, has championship experience and proved to be a good locker room presence last season. However, it be hard to imagine he’d have anything but a deep bench role, with the Lakers bench looking like a spoil of riches as they head into the season.
In the bubble, Smith didn’t have to play much of a role off the bench, even with a relatively limited guard rotation. He averaged just 7.5 minutes per game and 2 points. Smith was signed by the Lakers after guard Avery Bradley opted out.
Prior to signing with the Lakers, Smith has not played a game since Nov. 19, 2018 with the Cavaliers. He said his time away from basketball sent him into a depression.
#Lakers' JR Smith on if he thought his career was over: "Yeah. I went through a very depressed state for a long time…I didn't even want to play 2k anymore…It was tough. It was extremely tough."
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) July 6, 2020
“I went through a very depressed state for a long time,” Smith told reporters on Monday during a video conference call. “And it lasted for a few months, where I just didn’t — I’m a big video gamer, I didn’t even play 2K anymore. I don’t want to hoop, I don’t want to work out, I don’t want to play 2K, I don’t want to do anything with basketball.”
Pau Gasol Also Vying for Lakers Roster Spot
Smith isn’t the only former Laker that has been associated with a return to the purple and gold. Free agent big man Pau Gasol, who won a pair of titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, has said that he’d welcome a reunion with his former squad.
There’s also concerns about Gasol, however. He’s has undergone two surgeries during his time away to repair stress fractures in the navicular bone in his left foot, a tough injury for a big man. But with his brother Marc on the roster in LA, the idea of repping the Lakers again would be very “special” for him.
“There is meaning and history there,” Gasol said of the Lakers, per Zach Lowe of ESPN. “I’m not going to lie. It would be very special, and now that my brother [Marc] is there, even more special. But I’m not in a position now to be very demanding. I don’t have 10 offers on the table.”