J.R. Smith, SG
Adding 34-year-old shooting guard J.R. Smith to this Pelicans roster might be an interesting move for a young roster. Smith was a member of the 2016 NBA Championship-winning Cleveland Cavaliers‘ roster, a crucial member of the team’s rotation at the time of the victory.
There is some question of how much Smith has left in the tank. Last season in Cleveland, he was frustrated enough with his situation to opt for a spectator role for a majority of the campaign. He appeared in 11 games, started just 4, and averaged 6.7 points on 20.2 minutes a night. His three-point shooting fell off as well, hitting only 30.8% from deep on 3.5 attempts per game.
What would benefit the Pelicans is if a refreshed, happier Smith emerges as a solid three-point shooting and defensive option off the bench. The Pelicans have a much better chance of making the playoffs than Cleveland did a season ago and Smith’s legs should be feeling well-rested after spending most of the 2018-2019 slate away from the game.
In that case, Alvin Gentry and his staff would hope Smith plays a lot more as he did in his first three seasons in Cleveland. He averaged 10.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and shot 38.1% from three from 2014-2018, and overall, his seasons have been pretty consistent.
Smith is known for the occasional questionable play, but on a team with relatively low expectations, those kinds of moments should be easier to neglect.
Interestingly, it would be something of a homecoming for Smith. He was selected 18th overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets, spending two seasons in the Big Easy before being traded to the Denver Nuggets (by way of the Chicago Bulls).