In the aftermath of Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley deciding to opt out of returning to finish the NBA season in Orlando, Florida, names immediately began to emerge as potential replacements.
The Lakers were free to sign someone to replace Bradley and the most obvious idea was guard JR Smith. As the Lakers were looking at potential additions before the season was postponed, one of the players they worked out was Smith.
Though the Lakers ultimately went with Dion Waiters, Smith is still very familiar to the Lakers staff as well as many players on the team, especially LeBron James, with whom he won a championship with in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The two are now due to be reunited, as the Lakers officially announced the signing of Smith.
Replacing Bradley’s production won’t be an easy job and certainly shouldn’t be placed solely on the shoulders of Smith. Bradley was an extremely important piece of the Lakers rotation, setting the tone defensively with his aggression and energy and giving the starters an edge they sorely need.
Additionally, his shooting had been excellent over the last couple of months, knocking down a ridiculous 48.2% from deep in the month of February, and a more-than-acceptable 37.5% over the team’s last five games.
Smith isn’t the defender that Bradley is, but he can definitely help the Lakers with floor spacing as a career 37.3% shooter from three-point range. In five seasons with the Cavaliers he shot 38.1% from deep, averaging 10.3 points per game. Smith especially showed off his worth during their championship run in 2016, shooting 43% from three-point range on over seven attempts per game.
The Lakers have no shortage of players who can help them offset the loss of Bradley. Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dion Waiters and Smith could all potentially play a role during this Lakers run and all bring something different. But Smith’s shooting, experience and chemistry with James make him an ideal addition in this situation.
Lakers restart schedule at Walt Disney World
After playing exhibition games, the Lakers’ schedule at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
on the Walt Disney World campus will begin July 30 with a matchup against the L.A. Clippers.
The Lakers will then face the Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings.
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