- The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly signing J.R. Smith for the remainder of the season.
- Smith, who hasn’t played since November 2018, joins a hodgepodge roster of veteran journeymen who are known for big personalities and history with LeBron James.
- The Lakers have made the group work this season and stand to compete for a title in Orlando with one of the most entertaining groups in the NBA.
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The Los Angeles Lakers have built a championship-contending team with a roster full of big names and personalities.
The latest addition is J.R. Smith, a veteran guard the Lakers are reportedly signing to replace guard Avery Bradley, who has opted to sit out the season’s resumption in Disney World.
Smith won a championship with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, serving as a valuable “3-and-D” wing in Cleveland from 2015 through 2018. However, he hasn’t played an NBA game since November 19, 2018, when he requested a trade from the Cavaliers. He was sent home from the team shortly after, eventually waived, and has not signed with a team since.
Expectations are low as far as what Smith can bring on the floor. But to date, the Lakers’ team-building philosophy is clear: veterans who can step in and contribute right away.
However, it’s not just that the Lakers have signed veterans who were previously good players – they have signed some journeymen with big personalities or a history with James.
Consider some other players on their roster, all of whom signed or re-signed this offseason:
- Rajon Rondo: a 34-year-old guard on his sixth team. Rondo and James battled from 2008-2013 when Rondo was with the Celtics and James with the Cavs and Heat. Rondo hasn’t lasted with one team for more than a season since leaving the Celtics and has a reputation for giving an up-and-down effort during the regular season.
- JaVale McGee: a 32-year-old centre on his sixth team. McGee restored his value as a rim-running centre on the Warriors, but previously, he was more famous for his recurring role on “Shaqtin’ a Fool.”
- Dwight Howard: a 34-year-old centre on his sixth NBA team. Howard nearly fell out of the league last summer after being traded from team to team and failing to make much of an impact. Howard and James battled for the MVP from 2007-2009. Howard is now serving as a reclamation project (and doing a good job!)
- Markieff Morris: a 30-year old forward on his fourth team in two years. Morris never quite turned into the play-making, stretch four many had hoped. He can give valuable minutes but mainly serves to bring a dose of toughness to a team.
- Dion Waiters: a 28-year-old guard on his fourth team. Waiters and James did not click on the Cavs in 2014, and Waiters was traded to the Thunder in the deal that brought Smith to the Cavs.
All of these players have had their share of famous (and infamous) moments on and off the floor. Smith was known to enjoy nightclubs and once forgot the score in a Finals game. Waiters reportedly had a bad trip after taking an edible on the Heat team plane this season and lives in gif-infamy for calling for the ball from James. Both Smith and Waiters have been known for their willingness to shoot the ball on any possession.
And to the Lakers’ credit, the surrounding pieces have worked. Along with wings like Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (both on short-term deals), third-year forward Kyle Kuzma, and reserve guard Alex Caruso, the Lakers have a cast of players who defend, share the ball, and stay in their roles on offence. The Lakers are one of three teams to have top-five offensive and defensive ratings.
Of course, the bulk of the credit goes to James and Davis. Even at 35, James is the engine of the Lakers offence, and Davis is the Lakers’ most important two-way player.
But when the season resumes in late July in Orlando, few teams will boast a roster like the Lakers – a mix of skilled, hilarious journeymen, together for perhaps just one season. And they will all be quarantined together in Disney World.
- Read more:
- NBA POWER RANKINGS: Where the 22 teams heading into the Disney World bubble stand when the season resumes
- 16 NBA players tested positive for COVID-19 12 days before the league begins its Disney ‘bubble’
- The NBA is set to resume its season in a ‘bubble’ in Disney on July 30 – here’s everything to know about how the radical plan will work
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