Lakers' Updated Depth Chart After Report JR Smith Expected to Sign Contract

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2020

Cleveland Cavaliers' JR Smith drives against the Phoenix Suns in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 23, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers will add more experience to their roster heading into the restarted 2019-20 NBA season with the expected signing of JR Smith, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.

The guard will replace Avery Bradley, who decided to opt out of the games at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex just outside of Orlando, Florida. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the Lakers were moving toward a deal with Smith as soon as Bradley made his decision.

It creates a reshuffled lineup for a team hoping to compete for a title.

                                       

Lakers Depth Chart

PG: LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook

SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JR Smith

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SF: Danny Green, Jared Dudley

PF: Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris

C: JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard

                                 

The Lakers have a lot of versatility in a mostly positionless rotation, although LeBron James usually runs the offense with a league-leading 10.6 assists per game.

Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook are also capable of playing lead guard, while each will get minutes at the 2.

The biggest questions come with the absence of Bradley, who started 44 of his 49 games as a reliable two-way player who could defend top guards across the NBA.

Smith can certainly help fill this void, bringing with him a proven track record as a defender and an outside shooter, making 37.3 percent of his career three-point shots. He can handle the pressure of the postseason with 130 playoff games on his resume, helping the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2015-16 title.

His familiarity with LeBron should also create an easy transition, as he spent three-plus years playing alongside the superstar.

However, the 34-year-old hasn't played in the NBA all season and appeared in just 11 contests in 2018-19, last seeing action in November 2018. Though everyone is coming off a long layoff after the season was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Smith could be especially rusty.

His upside should get him plenty of minutes, but don't expect him to jump right into the starting lineup.

The spot will likely go to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who started 20 games this season and is a better replacement for Bradley. The shooting guard is averaging 9.5 points per game this year, his lowest since his rookie season, but is on pace for a career high in field-goal percentage (47.2) and three-point percentage (39.4).

Caldwell-Pope's efficiency makes him a perfect three-and-D player alongside James and Anthony Davis.

Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris should also play significant roles at the forward spots, while JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard will rotate at center.   

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