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Despite some buzz, the Los Angeles Lakers are an unlikely destination for free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Smith was waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, and because of his relationship with LeBron James, was immediately viewed as a potential Lakers signing.
Smith clears waivers Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST. He was sent home by the Cavs in November and has not played since. Smith, James and Lakers newcomer Anthony Davis are all represented by agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
The Cavs waived by the Smith via the “stretch” provision — meaning they will disperse the $4.3 million he’s owed over several seasons. That plan will keep them from having to pay luxury tax.
The Cavs did try to move Smith several times since sending him home in November, holding conversations with the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat, among others.
The Cavs had several offers and were willing to take back “bad” contracts, provided the opposing team also included a first-round pick. Those offers were there, but none to the Cavs’ liking. It seems as if the teams willing to give up the picks wanted to place protections on those picks, and the Cavs weren’t going to trade Smith just to trade him.
Earlier this month, the Cavs attempted to trade Smith’s contract to the Golden State Warriors for veteran wing Andre Iguodala, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. But the Warriors decided against it, instead sending Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies.
There has been talk that the Los Angeles Lakers would be a team with an interest in Smith, though that may be coming from his agency, Klutch Sports, and not the Lakers themselves. Klutch Sports is headed by Rich Paul, the agent for Smith, as well as Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Smith, who turns 34 before the season, was a member of the Cavs’ run of four straight trips to the Finals, but fell out of favor with the front office and coaching staff last season. He averaged 6.7 points on 34 percent shooting in 11 appearance last season.
The Cavs remain about $22 million over the salary cap for 2019-20 even after waiving Smith.