NBA Daily: Potential Landing Spots for J.R. Smith

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The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t gotten off to a great start this season. While they have some solid pieces on both sides of the ball, Cleveland has just one win in eight games, have departed with former head coach Tyronn Lue and have turned the team over to its youth.

A true series of unfortunate events when you consider the veterans still on the team. One veteran in particular, J.R. Smith, has made it clear he wouldn’t mind a change of scenery.

Whether via trade or some sort of buyout, it seems that Smith’s time for Cleveland is not long. But where could he go?

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder are dead last in the NBA three-point percentage. On the season, they have shot just 26.5 percent on 30.1 long distance attempts per game, and it has made things extremely difficult for Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

They need some help. Any help, really.

Smith, a career 37.3 three-point shooter, is an obvious remedy. Whether they insert him into the starting or have him shoot off the bench, Smith could open up more space for Westbrook to drive into the paint and draw some of the outside defensive heat away from George.

Houston Rockets

Like the Thunder, the Houston Rockets would probably try anything at this point.

While the loss of Trevor Ariza was looked at as no big deal for the offense, his departure has clearly had an impact on both sides of the ball; the Rockets’ defense has been bad as expected, but their three-point percentage is down to 33.3 percent after they shot 36.2 a season ago. They are also just 25th in scoring and have averaged 105.8 points per game, down more than six points from last season.

Houston has limped to a 1-5 start on the year and they need to make a move. Smith is the perfect fit given their three-point happy offensive approach. He has also shown the ability to be a competent defender in the past, and Houston will probably take what it can get on that front. With Smith lined up for an immediate role due to Houston’s injury issues, a move to Houston could be a win-win for both parties.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers have a spacing problem.

With the departure of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Bellineli in the offseason, the 76ers have struggled at times to find spacing for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. They have shot just 35 percent from downtown on the season and could use another outside force to make up for Simmons’ lack of a jumper.

J.J. Redick and Robert Covington have both been a plus from beyond the arc, but they alone can’t provide enough spacing for the entire offense. Assuming they can get Cleveland to eat a portion of his salary this season, Smith could be an ideal acquisition as a spark off the bench and a short-term rental. Next season, Smith has a partial guarantee just north of $3 million and could be moved with relative ease.

New Orleans Pelicans

It would behoove the Pelicans to surround Anthony Davis with as many shooters as possible.

The Pelicans’ offense is at it’s best when Davis has room to operate. And, while the 25-year-old has been no slouch this season — 25.2 points, 13 rebounds, 5.2 assists, two steals and 3.2 blocks per game — the increased spacing Smith could provide would make things even easier on one of the most dynamic forces in the NBA. The offensive boost would be welcome as well, as three of New Orleans’ major contributors — Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle and Solomon Hill — have shot under 25 percent from deep so far this season.

Smith could also serve to balance the Pelicans’ offense somewhat and shift some defensive attention away from the front-court dominated unit.

Los Angeles Lakers

Would LeBron James ever partner with Smith again after, well… you know.

Assuming he has put the past behind him, James and the Los Angeles Lakers could use all the help they can get right about now. The team sits at 3-5 on the season and they have struggled to shoot the three; they rank just 20th in the NBA in three-point percentage. JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson, with a combined 35 three-point attempts, are their leading long-distance shooters.

Also, it is only a matter of time before James looks to bring some veterans to his new, young roster in his push to win another title.

There are plenty of teams that could make use of Smith’s skill set and do so in a competitive fashion. And, with the postseason experience Smith can provide, he could be a welcome and important asset for many teams with postseason aspirations. While it may take some time for Cleveland to push a move through buyout, trade or otherwise, it will be interesting to see where the champion and former Sixth Man of the Year Smith ends up.