The trade deadline has passed, but contending teams like the Los Angeles Lakers are still making roster moves around the margins. Their wheeling and dealing continued on Sunday when they waived veteran guard Troy Daniels in order to create an open roster spot. The team announced the move ahead of their matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Daniels was not a consistent part of the rotation and had played just 41 games this season, so his absence will not be particularly notable. This was simply the easiest way the Lakers could open up a roster spot for a potential buyout signing. One player that the Lakers have their eyes on is veteran guard J.R. Smith, who is expected to work out with the team early this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Heavy.com first reported that the Lakers were going to give Smith a workout in January.
Smith, 34, hasn’t played in an NBA game since November 2018 when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, though he does have ample experience playing alongside LeBron James. Smith played with James in Cleveland from 2015-2018, and he helped the Cavs to capture their first NBA title in 2016. His familiarity with James could make for a smooth transition if the Lakers ultimately decided to add him to the roster. As a career 37 percent shooter from long distance, Smith could potentially provide the Lakers with some much-needed floor-spacing, in addition to playoff experience (he has 130 postseason games under his belt).
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In addition to their interest in Smith, the Lakers also worked out Dion Waiters on Monday. Waiters had an impressive showing in the workout, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, and he will meet with the team’s coaching staff and front office. Waiters was bought out by Memphis after being part of the trade that sent Andre Iguodala to Miami, and he’s been on the Lakers’ radar since that point. Waiters is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents the Lakers’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Waiters can score, no doubt, and the Lakers really lack firepower off their bench. He only played in three games for Miami this season, but he did shoot 47 percent (8 for 17) from 3-point range. In 44 games last season, Waiters shot 37 percent from deep. Throwing out this season, he’s averaged double digits in scoring in each of the past three seasons. That said, he’s the definition of a wild card. He can carry a team for stretches when he’s cooking, but he can bury a team with tunnel vision and reckless shots just as easily. The Lakers are playing for a championship. They’re not playing for an occasional fireworks show.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on The Hoop Collective podcast that Waiters doesn’t have to just convince the Lakers that he’s worth the gamble; he has to convince James, who might not have the final say but certainly carries a heavily weighted opinion. If LeBron was to veto the move, you can rest assured the Lakers are not going to sign Waiters.