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Free-agent guard JR Smith, out of the NBA for two years, has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Avery Bradley on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster for the season’s Orlando restart, sources told ESPN.
Lakers president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and Smith’s agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, were discussing a possible agreement Tuesday night and were expected to speak again Wednesday, sources said.
The Lakers, the top seed in the Western Conference, are seeking a substitute player for Bradley, their starting point guard, who told ESPN on Tuesday night that he was opting out of the season’s restart for family considerations. The Lakers could waive Bradley to create the roster spot for Smith.
Smith, 34, hasn’t played an NBA game since November 2018 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Smith worked out for the Lakers in February before the team signed guard Dion Waiters to a deal. Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will ease much of the burden of Bradley’s departure, with Waiters expected to provide further depth in the backcourt. Rajon Rondo is another veteran guard on the Lakers’ bench.
Smith has played 15 NBA seasons since getting drafted in New Orleans out of St. Benedict’s Prep in 2004, including stops with Denver, New York and Cleveland. He won an NBA title with the Cavaliers and LeBron James in 2016 and was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2013 with the Knicks.
The NBA has a transaction window through July 1 that allows teams to sign free agents prior to traveling to Orlando to restart the season.