Lakers Rumors: JR Smith Expected to Be Targeted After Cavaliers Trade or Release

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2019

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith celebrates after making a 3-point shot against the Orlando Magic during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly expected to pursue Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith if he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The Cavaliers are attempting to trade Smith, whose $15.7 million contract becomes guaranteed June 30. If he is waived on or before then, Smith will make $3.9 million, and the acquiring team would likely release him for the cap savings.

"When he's waived, it is my belief he will end up with the Lakers," Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said.

The Cavs are likely seeking picks or a promising young piece in return.

The Cavaliers will waive him if they can't find a suitor.

Smith, 33, appeared in just 11 games last season while the Cavs underwent a youth movement. He averaged 6.7 points and 1.9 assists per contest on 34.2 percent shooting before he left the team in November.

Cleveland attempted to trade Smith ahead of the February deadline but did not find a deal to its liking. It had long been expected the Cavs would continue exploring a deal into the offseason, and some were surprised he was not dealt during Thursday's draft.

It's possible the Cavs, who are well over the salary cap, per Spotrac, will skip the middle man and benefit from the savings. They are projected to be over the NBA luxury tax, though they could easily duck under by waiving Smith.

As for whether Smith fits with the Lakers, that depends on if he can still play basketball. The Smith we saw in a limited fashion last season looked done. He was one of the league's most ineffective players on both ends of the floor. It's unclear if he can be a net positive player, and the most recent memorable moment of his career was his infamous gaffe in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals.

The Lakers might benefit more from filling out their bench with players with better recent production, rather than ex-LeBron James teammates.