The NBA bubble games are set to take off next month but teams are dealing with manpower problems. Some cagers are hesitant to head over to Orlando, aware that the COVID-19 pandemic is still in the air. Among the players who have opted to pass include Avery Bradley of the Los Angeles Lakers. That would be a big hole for the purple and gold and the Lakers are now skimming the market for available free agents.
One of the names that have cropped is J.R. Smith. The 34-year-old swingman worked out with the Lakers back in March. However, the Lakers opted to go with Dion Waiters instead. But at the time, the Lakers also mentioned that the doors were not closed on the NBA veteran. The only problem then was that they needed to create a roster spot. With Bradley opting to sit out the remainder of the 2019-20 season, Smith gets the chance to play once more and reunite with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Smith is the leading candidate to take over Bradley's post. As of this writing, nothing has been made official and there are concerns up in the air. Perhaps the most important of them all is the type of condition Smith is in. His last NBA game was during the 2018-19 NBA season. He played only 11 games for the Cavs before finding himself in trouble due to his controversial comments on the direction Cleveland was headed.
But if Smith proves he is good to go, he could be a valuable addition. Smith owns career averages of 12.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. These are credible numbers if he is in top condition. Comparing it to Bradley's averages of 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists, there is no question that the one-time NBA champion could fill in the void perfectly.
With roughly a month to go, Smith can start getting himself in shape as early as now. However, he needs to get acquainted with the system of Vogul in case he does get the call. Either way, a return to the NBA may be coming soon and his performance could determine if he will be kept moving forward. Also, it places him in a good opportunity to win another NBA title with the Lakers considered one of the favorites to win it all this season. But the path towards that will not be easy with several heavyweights in the Western Conference out to spoil the party.