This article is for discussing the best landing spots for J.R. Smith for the next few seasons. Smith has great upside for a few teams, as he possesses explosive scoring ability off the bench. With a few teams needing this spark, we will see if anyone tries to snatch Smith away from the Cavalier’s, as they try to resign all their other free agents.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Let us get this obvious choice out of the way. Smith had a great season for the Cavalier’s, after they acquired him from the New York Knicks. Smith was able to stay under control, contribute offensively, and seemed to try and play a little more defense than before. With LeBron as the leader, he looked upon Smith in the finals to help carry the offensive load, and although Smith could not do that, his couple of three’s in game two and three, were crucial at the times, which allowed for the Cavalier’s to win those two games. The Cavalier’s have been extremely active this offseason in resigning their players, but Smith and the Cavaliers have had no urgency to strike a deal. The Cavalier’s know they will have to go further into the luxury cap to sign Smith, but the offense he could bring them could be worth it, as they pursue a championship.
Milwaukee Bucks: This has been floating around as a rumor for quite some time this free agency period. Although Milwaukee could use the explosive Smith for bench offense, I do not think they have the veteran leadership needed to handle Smith. The Milwaukee nightlife is pretty similar to Cleveland, so at least we know, Smith would not be partying that much, like he was in New York. Say Milwaukee actually signed Smith, we would have to see where he fits. Smith and Mayo have the same explosive scoring ability, and with both players expected to come off the bench, I do not believe it is wise for the Bucks to have two of these types of players on one bench. Smith is the more explosive of the two, but offers more off the court problems, but as stated before, the nightlife is not crazy, so Smith should be able to stay under control in Milwaukee. If Milwaukee did sign Smith, they would have to look to trade Mayo, who could be an interesting addition for some playoff hopeful teams, as he could contribute off the bench, and also is an expiring contract. I doubt Milwaukee is very high on Smith’s list, but I just wanted to give my thoughts on him in Milwaukee, since a few experts think this is a good place for him.
Utah Jazz: An interesting dark horse candidate to land Smith’s services. The Jazz are a dark horse to make the playoffs, and with Portland losing LaMarcus Aldridge, Dallas losing out on DeAndre Jordan, the path is a lot easier for the Jazz to make it back to the postseason. The Jazz are a good defensive team, but lack the offensive threat off the bench, that could help them take the next step into the playoffs. Smith would not be a bad addition for the Jazz, as a one year stop. Smith would have the ability to be the veteran leader off the bench, as well as play along a young, talent rich team. I think in Utah, Smith would be an early candidate to win sixth man of the year. Utah also allow’s for a relaxed environment, so the Jazz would not have to worry about Smith going to crazy off the court. As with Milwaukee, Utah is not a highly sought after free agent destination, but if Cleveland does not want to shell out a lot of money for Smith, smaller market teams could have a good shot at him.
Los Angeles Lakers: Why not? The Laker’s are looking to compete for a playoff spot next season, and with their current roster, the Laker’s will be fun to watch, but do not have what it takes to sneak into the playoffs in the Western Conference. Smith, although not a star, could provide tremendous scoring ability for the Laker’s off the bench. When I spoke about Milwaukee, I said Mayo and Smith would not be a good bench pairing, and with the Laker’s signing Lou Williams, they already have their sixth man. However, Williams could play the point, and allow for Smith to play shooting guard, giving them a very explosive scoring bench. With the bright lights of Los Angeles, Smith would need constant surveillance, as seen before in a big city, Smith can lose focus of his basketball priorities. In competing for a playoff spot this year, I see no harm in signing Smith to a one year deal, or two year, player option on the second. A one year deal would help the Lakers for this current season, and if does not work out, they are off the hook, after just one year.
Atlanta Hawks: Another dark horse candidate for Smith’s services. Atlanta did trade for Tim Hardaway Jr, but Smith provides a better scoring option off the bench for Atlanta, as Hardaway still needs to develop a reliable shot. Atlanta lost DeMarre Carroll to the Raptor’s this offseason, and even last season, had a glaring hole for bench scorers. Now the Hawk’s have to replace Carroll’s offense, Kyle Korver is coming off an ankle injury, so we do not know what to expect, and the bench still has so very few potent scorers. Smith would have great veteran leadership in Horford, Teague, Millsap, and Korver, as they would not let him get out of line in Atlanta’s nightlife. Smith coming off the bench, would be huge for the Hawk’s, as they would now not have to worry about their starting five needing to contribute almost all of their points. Also, if Korver is unable to start from day one, Smith is capable of stepping in, and giving the Hawk’s their floor spacer. Atlanta has been pretty quiet this free agency, and in trying to stay competitive in the Eastern Conference, as well as weaken an opponent, they could look to sign Smith’s services for a year or two, or until Hardaway is able to take over, as their main bench offense.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17