Following an announcement last week from Lakers’ 3-and-D specialist Avery Bradley that he would not be joining the team in Orlando, LA has been looking for available free agents to fill his big role. Bradley brings quite a bit to the table, as his respectable defense has been at the top of the league for the better half of the last decade.
Is losing Bradley a threat to the LA title-hunt? Hardly. The Lakers still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, which could be enough as it is. What has been an interesting turn of events, however, is that one of LeBron’s dear friends may soon join the party in Orlando.
Free-agent guard J.R. Smith has now emerged as the front-runner to replace Bradley. As of Monday morning, he and the Lakers are closing in on a deal to make him part of the roster heading to Orlando, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Smith’s bond with LeBron is undoubtedly the reason for the move, as the two have won an NBA Championship together with the Cavs in 2016. While J.R. hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2018, it has been stated that he’s been ready to go for several months.
Smith can fill most of the Avery Bradley void, as he is a very capable defender with three-point sharpshooting capabilities. The chemistry between Smith and James should still be there, and it shouldn’t take long for the veteran to adjust to game speed during the Lakers’ first eight games of the NBA restart. Obviously expecting Smith to be in game shape may be a little far-fetched, but who’s to say he’s in any less shape than the rest of the league after a several month quarantine?
Right now over at BetOnline.ag, you can bet the Lakers to win the Orlando Championship at +240 odds (they are the current favorite).