Lakers' JR Smith Says He 'Went Through a Very Depressed State' While out of NBA

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2020

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith dribbles to the basket during the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Cleveland. J.R. Smith has joined LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for their championship push. The Lakers announced their long-anticipated signing of Smith as a substitute player on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the first day allowed under the rules of the NBA's summer restart. (AP Photo/Scott R. Galvin, File)
Scott R. Galvin/Associated Press

Recently signed Los Angeles Lakers guard JR Smith said he was in "a very depressed state" while he was out of the NBA for the better part of two years, according to Kyle Goon of Southern California News Group. 

Smith even said he had to stop playing the NBA 2K video games because they served as a reminder that his career could be over. 

Smith, 34, last played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018-19 season, appearing in 11 games and averaging 6.7 points and 1.9 assists per game. The two sides mutually agreed to part ways that season, and he sat out the rest of the year before he was officially waived last July. 

He went unsigned heading into the 2019-20 season. 

But with Avery Bradley opting out of the restart at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, because of concerns for his family amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lakers decided to fortify their depth chart at the guard position. Given Smith's postseason experience and familiarity with LeBron James from their time in Cleveland together, he was a logical fit. 

It remains to be seen how much actual playing time he'll see, however, with players like Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Dion Waiters also available at the position.

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"JR is a really big [X-factor]. If you get the JR who can hit five threes in a playoff game, then s--t yeah," one scout told Sam Amick of The Athletic. "But I don't know what JR looks like right now."

That's the major question—after a long layoff and in his mid-30s, will Smith be able to shake off the rust and ball out? How much does he have left in the tank? And will he even crack the rotation?

Regardless of those answers, Smith is clearly happy to be back in the league.