Free agent guard JR Smith, out of the NBA for two years, has become a leading candidate to replace Avery Bradley on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster for the season restart in Orlando, sources told ESPN.
Lakers President of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka and Smith’s agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports were discussing a possible deal Tuesday night and were expected to speak again Wednesday, sources said.
The Lakers, the top seed in the Western Conference, are looking for a substitute player for their starting point guard Bradley, who told ESPN on Tuesday night that he was choosing not to restart the season because of family considerations. The Lakers could resign Bradley to create the spot on Smith’s list.
Smith, 34, has not played an NBA game since November 2018 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Smith worked for the Lakers in February before the team signed a deal with guard Dion Waiters. Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will ease much of the burden of Bradley’s departure, and Waiters is expected to provide more depth in the defense zone. Rajon Rondo is another veteran guard on the Lakers’ bench.
Smith has played 15 NBA seasons since being drafted in New Orleans outside of St. Benedict’s Prep in 2004, including stops with Denver, New York, and Cleveland. He won an NBA title with the Cavaliers and LeBron James in 2016 and was the NBA’s sixth man of the year in 2013 with the Knicks.
The NBA has a transaction window through July 1 that allows teams to sign free agents before traveling to Orlando to restart the season.