Free agent profile: J.R. Smith
This is the fourth post in a series of profiles analyzing a free agent and how he might fit in with the Lakers.
J.R. Smith, Nuggets guard
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: The biggest area the Lakers lacked, argued former Coach Phil Jackson, was speed. Considering the uncertainty on whether Shannon Brown's going to exercise his $2.37-million option, securing Smith would provide the Lakers insurance for a speedy and athletic backup at shooting guard. Smith would provide endless amounts of energy on the break, on defense and in hustle plays. His trash talking with Kobe Bryant over the years would actually earn his respect considering he's touted Ron Artest and Matt Barnes for their willingness to get chippy with him. And Smith's defensive ability should lift the burden off a veteran-heavy backcourt in Bryant and Derek Fisher and keep an aging Artest fresh. Expect Barnes and Smith to try to one up each other on body art too.
Negatives: There's a reason why Nuggets Coach George Karl often grew agitated with him, often labeling him a "good-bad player" because of his tendency to play outside the confines of his system and hoist unnecessary shots. You're also going to get off-court distractions, such as Smith getting pulled over on his scooter for not having a licenses to operate it. Smith's driver ALSO filled Kenyon Martin's car full of popcorn as an April Fool's joke. Also, according to the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman, Smith mentioned it was likely he wouldn't resign with the Nuggets. Fair enough for his honesty. But Smith said this when the Nuggets were trailing 0-2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs, hardly the type of comment a player should make. No doubt, he'd be a handful for Mike Brown.
Verdict: The Lakers would surely be able to reign Smith in considering they have Bryant and Fisher running the locker room. Should Smith immediately adapt to that culture, he'd be a valuable wild-card addition. But I could only see Smith filling that role for so long. That's why it'd be better if the Lakers signed Smith to a short-term deal (one season). Prolonging his stint any longer than that would only increase the possibility that problems would arise.
-- Mark Medina
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Nuggets guard J.R. Smith wouldn't be a good fit with the Lakers for long. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times