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JR Smith Says He Believes He Was Blackballed From NBA: 'Yeah, 100 Percent'

Adam WellsSeptember 2, 2022

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Toyota North America

Two years after winning an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, JR Smith thinks he is being deliberately held out of the league.

In an interview with Pierce Simpson of Complex Sports, Smith said "100 percent" he was being blackballed from the NBA.

"Anybody can sit here and tell you that thatโ€™s a fact," he added.

Smith also added Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford, Nick Young and Isaiah Thomas to the list of players being blackballed.

Complex Sports @ComplexSports

J.R. Smith says he, Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, Nick Young and Joe Johnson have been blackballed from the NBA.<br><br>Link below for full <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ComplexVolume?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ComplexVolume</a> story and interview with J.R. Smith.<br><br>๐Ÿ”—: <a href="https://t.co/HJEfAcMDgC">https://t.co/HJEfAcMDgC</a> <a href="https://t.co/sR7XsSbztz">pic.twitter.com/sR7XsSbztz</a>

Crawford can't be blackballed because he officially retired in March. Thomas is a free agent who has bounced around the league a lot in recent years; he finished the 2021-22 season with the Charlotte Hornets.

Johnson is 41 years old, which would make him the second-oldest active player in the NBA, behind Udonis Haslem (42). He did appear in one game with the Boston Celtics last season after being signed to a 10-day contract using the hardship exemption.

Young, 37, was a journeyman for most of his career who hasn't played in the NBA since the 2018-19 season.

During his final season with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018-19, Smith seemingly forced his way out by publicly accusing the team of not trying to win in the wake of LeBron James' departure as a free agent.

"I donโ€™t think the goal is to win," Smith told The Athletic's Jason Lloyd. "The goal isnโ€™t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can. I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan."

The Cavs attempted to find a trade partner for Smith, but when no deal materialized, they held him out before waiving him in July 2019. He remained a free agent before signing with the Lakers going into the bubble in Orlando for the 2020 season restart.

Smith appeared in 16 games for the Lakers between the regular season and playoffs. The 36-year-old averaged 2.8 points per game on 31.8 percent shooting in his 10 regular-season games.

In 16 seasons, Smith played for five different teams and averaged 12.4 points per game. His first NBA title came with the Cavs in 2015-16.

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