Los Angeles Lakers news: J.R. Smith signs with the Los Angeles Lakers.
When the Los Angeles Lakers news was reported that Avery Bradley would not be rejoining the team at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the first name that became connected to the team was J.R. Smith.
Smith was a natural connection to the Lakers as he had existing ties to LeBron James and is the textbook three and D player that teams look to build around LeBron.
That speculation is now a reality as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday that Smith is indeed going to be joining the Los Angeles Lakers in the Orlando bubble. According to Wojnarowski, the two sides are working through the final steps of the deal and that the deal will be submitted to the league to be made official on Wednesday.
Smith is a big-name to be added to this Lakers team, but what exactly does he bring to the Los Angeles Lakers? Let’s break it down.
Los Angeles Lakers news: What J.R. Smith is bringing to the Lakers
1. Playoff experience
An important attribute of J.R. Smith that undoubtedly played a role in the Lakers signing him is his playoff experience. Smtih was a running mate alongside LeBron James for all four of the Cavaliers’ NBA Finals appearances and knows what it takes to win (and lose) the biggest games possible.
He may have made one of the biggest blunders in NBA Finals history in the last time that we saw him on the big stage, but he still has the experience to keep calm when the lights are the brightest.
2. Familiarity alongside LeBron James
This is also a big component of the Lakers signing Smith. Outside of him being a member of Klutch Sports, which naturally draws a connection to LeBron, his history with LeBron is what made him a more valuable asset than, say, Nick Young.
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Both players have very similar skill sets but Smith has played with LeBron and thus already has a level of chemistry built up with James. It is going to be easier to implement Smith in the rotation and get him involved because of that familiarity.
3. Another three and D presence (although don’t get your hopes up)
J.R. Smith is the prototypical three and D player and that is exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers need in the backcourt alongside LeBron James. On paper, this signing could not be anymore perfect for the team.
However, I would be very cautious in being over-optimistic in Smith, as he was not great when we last saw him. Not only was he not great, but he has not played in an NBA game since November of 2018.
In an article published by Lake Show Life last week, we broke down how bad Smith was, which is why he hasn’t played in almost two years. In his last three seasons, Smith had the seventh-lowest points per 36 minutes among any players with 100 games started. His 1.6 defensive win-shares were the second-lowest among any player with 3,400 minutes played.
4. Not a big role on the team
Simply put, if the Los Angeles Lakers go about this the right way, J.R. Smith should not have a big role on the team and should have to earn every playoff minute that he gets during the team’s eight seeding games.
I think we will see a lot of Smith during those eight games as Frank Vogel figures out how much the team can use him, but it should not be a lot.
I feel a lot more comfortable in adding minutes to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green while also giving Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Dion Waiters bigger roles than they would have gotten if Bradley was in the rotation.
Smith should not get more minutes than Rondo and should only get more minutes than Caruso or Waiters if he outplays them in the eight games. He is a big name, but he should only give the Lakers 8-10 minutes per game in the playoffs.