Los Angeles Lakers: J.R. Smith — when we last saw him

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

New Los Angeles Lakers signing J.R. Smith has not stepped on an NBA floor for a while.

With Avery Bradley opting to remain out of the Orlando bubble, the Los Angeles Lakers made an eleventh-hour move inside the one-week window opened by the league, reaching an agreement with former Sixth Man of the Year and NBA champion, J.R. Smith. He will join teammate LeBron James for the fifth season together.

J.R. was probably the best replacement possible on the market for Bradley, but he comes with a lot of uncertainties as he has been away from an NBA court for a year and a half.

Actually, the last time we saw an effective Smith, it was 2018, when he averaged 8.3 points per game on 37.5 percent from three. It was the time of the infamous play in the Finals that cost the Cleveland Cavaliers a crucial Game 1 and the chance to compete in the series.

That summer LeBron left the Cavs and the franchise committed to its young players, leaving J.R. a minimum role and playing time. He saw the floor just 20.2 minutes per game in the first 11 eleven games, averaging 6.7 points.

With Smith unwilling to reach a buyout with more than $14 million left on his contract, the organization decided to keep him away from the team while looking for a trade. Unsurprisingly, it never materialized and he was waived via stretch-provision in the summer.

Most recently, he worked out for the Lakers after the trade deadline. LA was looking for scoring help in the backcourt off the bench, and although apparently everything went good, the Lakers ultimately decided to sign Dion Waiters.

Then, a few weeks ago, a video surfaced (courtesy of TMZ), displaying J.R. beating a man who, probably amidst the unjustified disorders spread on the wave of the legitimate protests for social injustice, tried to vandalize his car.

RELATED: Reasons why signing J.R. Smith was a bad move

He later admitted it was a stupid thing to do on his part, but he, fortunately, did not face any charge, leaving Smith a viable option for a playoff team. Enter the Lakers and the Orlando bubble situation.

Recently, we received this video of Smith working out, signaling that he is ready for his NBA return.

He looks ready. And committed to staying sharp despite being out of the league.

Of course, the Los Angeles Lakers had a chance to see J.R.’s condition in a workout and they must be confident in his preparation if they opted to sign him months later. But he is 34 years old, probably out of game shape and joining a new situation along with other two newcomers right before the start of the playoffs.

His acquaintance with James will hopefully speed up the bonding process with the team, but it will take time to blend on the floor and the frame to do it is very limited. It looks like either Smith or Waiters will be up for big minutes with Bradley stepping out.

Next. Ranking the potential second-round matchups. dark

It remains to be seen how their bodies and minds respond.