Smith could help them at small forward and also provide backup support for Kobe Bryant at shooting guard.
Smith, 26, has played in China since the NBA season began. He signed with a Chinese pro team during the NBA lockout and was obligated to honor the contract until this month.
There are some problems for the Lakers as far as Smith. They can offer him only a comparatively small salary of less than $1 million, a prorated portion of the veterans' minimum, because they are over the salary cap and spent their entire mini-midlevel exception on Josh McRoberts. Smith made $6.8 million last season with Denver.
There are several other teams pursuing Smith. He listed them on his Twitter page: New York, Chicago, Indiana, Orlando and the Clippers.
Just the same, Smith seemed somewhat eager about the Lakers, writing on Twitter that he "Just had a great talk with Coach Brown!"
Smith averaged 12.3 points and 23.9 minutes last season for Denver. He shot a solid 39% from three-point range.
Brown has tried three players at small forward this season: Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks. The Lakers also don't have a true backup for Bryant, using point guards Steve Blake or Andrew Goudelock to spell him at times.
-- Mike Bresnahan
Photo: J.R. Smith, then with the Denver Nuggets, battles for a loose ball with Lakers Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant in 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times