J.R. Smith has long been one of the NBA’s most unpredictable players. Some see him as a team cancer, while others see him as someone who’s passion for basketball is undeniable. The past four years of his career, Smith has enjoyed his time being a role player on the LeBron James and Kyrie Irving-led Cleveland Cavaliers before both departed in consecutive offseasons. He played in four NBA Finals with the Cavs and won an NBA Championship in 2016.
This past year in the NBA Finals however, Smith might have inadvertently sealed his fate with the Cavs after a boneheaded play that proved he was not paying attention in the most important series of the year. In a tie game with the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena with just 4.7 seconds left, Cavs point guard George Hill missed a free throw and Smith somehow ended up with the rebound amidst much taller defenders. He then proceeded to dribble the ball out to run out the clock instead of putting it back up for second chance points, and the win. LeBron was clearly frustrated as the game headed to overtime and the Cavs were never able to put it together again for the entire series, getting swept in four games.
Fast forward to the start of this year and LeBron James is now on the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cavs are tanking, sitting currently with only one win. They have already fired head coach, Tyronn Lue, and it looks like Smith will eventually be traded after his Finals blunder and eventual request as of last week (detailed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and h/t Sporting News’ Jordan Heck).
Smith has a desirable skill set in today’s NBA, being able to shoot the three-pointer with consistency- usually- and being an above average wing defender, when engaged. Aside from his occasional locker room antics and the sometimes negative stigma that follows him around the league, here are five teams that could really use Smith’s talents as they look toward the long haul of the NBA regular season.
Note: I am leaving the Lakers off of this list as, even though they could absolutely use Smith’s abilities, I do not see LeBron welcoming this kind of move.
Next Up: Team #5