By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Los Angeles Lakers have found their restart replacement for Avery Bradley, and it's an old friend of LeBron James, as the Lakers are 'finalizing' a deal to add J.R. Smith to their rotation.
A Cleveland teammate of LeBron's for four seasons, Smith was part of the squad that brought a championship to The Land in 2016, and averaged 10.6 points and shot 40 percent from the field in that seven-game series win over the Warriors. But Smith also famously forgot the score in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, choosing to run out the clock and force overtime (which the Cavs later lost) instead of looking for the go-ahead, game-winning basket.
The Full J.R. Smith Experience.
But experience is experience, and Smith has that, as the 34-year-old has played in 79 playoff games since the start of the 2015 postseason, which is the seventh-most in the NBA over that span.
It's been a while since Smith last played in general, however, as he hasn't played in an NBA contest since Nov. 19, 2018. That was the final game of Smith's 11-game 2018-19 run with the Cavaliers, which ended with both parties agreeing to go their separate ways, as the LeBron-less Cavaliers were back to tanking and with Smith's role significantly reduced.
As previously mentioned, Smith will replace Bradley on the Los Angeles roster following Bradley's decision to skip the Orlando restart, citing the health concerns of his son. The Lakers aren't hoping for a straight-up Bradley replacement with Smith, of course, but the hope is that he can give them something, and that his familiarity with James will make this an easy fit.
The Lakers will begin the restart as the West's top team, at 49-14, and in pursuit of their first championship since 2010.