KEY POINTS

  • J.R. Smith is a leading candidate to take the place of Avery Bradley
  • Smith has not played since the 2018-19 NBA season
  • Smith can contribute the same numbers of Bradley if he is in shape

Avery Bradley has chosen to sit out the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season, meaning he won't be around when the league starts the bubble games in Orlando. Like most, the concern of the 29-year-old player is concerns regarding the health of his family. He will lose close to $650,000 with the decision.

Bradley will leave a hole in the Lakers' rotation and the likely recourse is to skim the free-agent market for players who would be willing to sign up. According to NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, a plausible target would be J.R. Smith to fill up the void.  Back in March, Smith worked out with the Lakers but the purple and gold opted to go with Dion Waiters instead. However, it was also mentioned in that previous post that the Lakers were keeping doors open. Taking in Smith could only happen if a roster spot opened. That has now happened.

Bradley was a crucial part of the Lakers offense, particularly in the area of the shooting. He normed 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists this NBA season in 24.2 minutes of action.  Those are numbers that Smith could easily match but there are several things to consider. One of them is that the 34-year-old swingman has not played an NBA game since the 2018-19 season. He suited up for only 11 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers before going into forced hiatus.

Smith holds career averages of 12.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Before the 2018-19 NBA season, Smith was putting up almost the same averages that Bradley was giving. Also, there is his familiarity with LeBron James that makes him a wise choice.

J.R. Smith J.R. Smith's future will hinge on which team will still want him in the NBA offseason. JR Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers warms up prior to Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: Getty Images/Jason Miller

The good news for Smith is that he has time to work himself back to shape. Like most players who got affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, getting back into playing shape is a must in the following weeks. There is no official word yet on the Lakers' end if Smith will be the one to take Bradley's spot. Given that there are only several players that could fit in the system of Frank Vogel, the former NBA champion may want to start working out starting as early as now if the Lakers suddenly call him to active duty.