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JR Smith Rumors: Lakers Work out Guard; Familiarity with LeBron Viewed as Plus

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2020

Cleveland Cavaliers' JR Smith looks up during a break in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, Friday, April 27, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly inching closer to adding a little erratic brilliance to their playoff roster. 

On the heels of reports the Lakers were going to take a look at Dion Waiters, the team gave free-agent guard JR Smith a workout on Monday, according to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. Per Ganguli, Los Angeles views Smith's familiarity with LeBron James and shooting ability as "pluses."

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Smith made it clear he'd be willing to accept any role in L.A.:

Ganguli noted, though, that the Lakers are in "no rush" to fill their empty roster spot and may bring in additional players for workouts.

Smith, 34, has not been on an NBA roster this season after being waived by the Cavaliers in July. He hasn't played in an NBA game since November 2018, when Cleveland sent him home amid the franchise's rebuild after LeBron James' departure.

The Lakers waived guard Troy Daniels on Sunday to make room on their roster for a player who could help in the stretch run. Markieff Morris joined the Lakers last month after agreeing to a buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

Aside from a preexisting working relationship with James, there is no evidence to suggest Smith is a better basketball player at this point than Daniels. Smith was shooting 34.2 percent and 30.8 percent from three-point range when he was sent home by the Cavs last season. Even though it was only an 11-game sample, Smith also shot 34.6 percent over the full 2016-17 campaign. 

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Recent history suggests Smith is a net-negative player in every respect.

Of the two players under consideration, Waiters' career is exponentially more salvageable. While injury-prone, Waiters was an above-average three-point shooter for nearly the entire duration of his run in Miami. His first run as a LeBron teammate went miserably, and Waiters' run in Miami came to an end due to off-court issues, but it's at least theoretically possible he could help as a floor spacer and secondary ball-handler.

Neither Waiters nor Smith seems likely to solve the biggest problems afflicting the Lakers, though. The offense takes a nosedive whenever James sits, in large part due to Rajon Rondo's mostly ineffective play as the Lakers' backup primary ball-handler. Waiters and Smith are not capable of being primary ball-handlers, which means the job will continue to fall on Rondo deep into the playoffs.

Their best bet may be signing Waiters and hoping for an occasional offensive outburst with bench units. 

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