Well, here it is. The news we’ve all been waiting for. The prodigal son will soon be reunited with the father. J.R. Smith, the oft-shirtless, soup-throwing man of Hennessey, will be joining LeBron Jamesin Los Angeles if things go according to plan.
Smith is still under contract for one final year with the Cavaliers, who have zero interest in keeping him around. They’ve been attempting to recoup any sort of value for the guard all season, but have yet to find any trade partner. When they eventually break and outright waive Smith, the Lakers reportedly plan to be there and sign Smith immediately.
The last time we saw Smith play basketball, it did not look good. He, like most of the vets brought in to compete, lost interest in playing for a tanking squad once LeBron left the Land. Unfortunately for both Smith and Cleveland, he was under contract until 2020, and at the hefty price of $15 million a year. If the Cavs waive Smith before June 30, however, they’ll only have to pay Smith a hair under $4 million. He won’t be a Cavalier come July, one way or the other.
Smith knows how to shut up, keep up, and do his job with LeBron, making him a valuable asset for the Lakers immediately. As far as his actual contributions, it remains to be seen if Smith can still shoot or play defense; he’s been absent from the Cavs since mid-November, and it was real ugly before he stopped showing up for work. Still, if he can hit the occasional shot and teach everyone else the finer details of being LeBron’s teammate, he’ll be a fine asset for a team that will be looking for any and all contributions from the margins of their team.
Frankly, it’s a little unbelievable that LeBron would give his stamp of approval. Smith is surely his good friend, but his blunder at the end of Game 1 in the 2018 NBA Finals will go down in history as one of the worst basketball mistakes of all time. But better the evil you know than the evil you don’t, I suppose. As long as he doesn’t throw soup on Frank Vogel, he should overall be a plus.