It appears that J.R. Smith‘s time with the New York Knicks is running out. The 2013 Sixth Man of the Year has been benched twice in the past week by coach Mike Woodson.
Smith’s track record this year is not good. He tweeted a meme about betrayal after his younger brother Chris Smith was released. He was twice caught untying an opposing player’s sneakers during a free throw, and his stats are down across the board, especially his points per game, which has decreased by seven points.
Smith signed a three-year, $18 million deal last offseason. The money isn’t too much, but might still make him hard to trade.
One team that could have interest in Smith is the Los Angeles Lakers. Coach Mike D’Antoni was coach of the Knicks when they first signed Smith a few years ago and would certainly love to have him back now. With Kobe Bryant injured, the Lakers have used different combinations of Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Wesley Johnson at shooting guard.
Even with his struggles, Smith could be a huge asset to the Lakers’ bench. Smith would also be another guard/forward to use in a small-ball lineup. Woodson’s offensive system revolves around Carmelo Anthony and isolation. D’Antoni would give Smith free reign to shoot threes and run around the court, which is how he excels.
Perhaps the Lakers can finally move Pau Gasol, something they have been trying doing since D’Antoni took over. Even if the Lakers take on Smith’s contract, it would not cripple their future cap space, and having a valuable bench player may make them more attractive.