Lakers adding free agent guard Smith to roster for NBA restart
The Los Angelss Lakers and veteran guard J.R. Smith are finalizing a contract that will add Smith to the roster for the NBA's return in Orlando, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Smith will replace guard Avery Bradley, who has opted not to play.
The Lakers worked out Smith in February but ultimately decided to sign shooting guard Dion Waiters instead.
Smith is a former teammate of Lakers star LeBron James, the pair winning a championship as starters with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
Smith, James, Waiters, and Lakers forward Anthony Davis and guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are all represented by agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul also represents Lakers rookie Talen Horton-Tucker, who spent the season in the G League.
Smith was sent home by the Cavaliers after just 11 games in the 2019-20 season. He was finally officially waived last July.
Smith, 34, has repeatedly said he isn’t done playing.
“Technically my whole career’s been in limbo, so this is easy for me,” Smith said before a celebrity softball game in Cleveland last summer.
He turned down an offer to play in China in August.
Twenty-two teams are scheduled to resume the NBA season at Walt Disney World in Orlando at the end of July. Each team will play eight "seeding" games prior to the playoffs.
The Lakers had the best record in the Western Conference and second best in the league (behind Milwaukee) at the hiatus.
Bradley told ESPN he was opting out of the season because his 6-year-old son has respiratory issues and likely wouldn't be cleared to enter the Disney campus.
“As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family,” Bradley told ESPN. “And so, at a time like this, I can’t imagine making any decision that might put my family’s health and well-being at even the slightest risk.
Bradley averaged 8.6 points on 44 percent shooting in 49 games this season.
Tuesday marks the final day teams can make roster moves prior to the Orlando restart.