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Kevin O’Connor @KevinOConnorNBA
Expect the Cavaliers to try to move on next from JR Smith. I heard this week they received some interest for Smith from the Rockets and Pelicans—both teams need depth at the wing position. Smith’s 2019-20 salary is guaranteed for only $3.9M, so it has some value as a trade chip.
The 33-year-old Smith has averaged 6.7 points on 34.2 percent shooting in 20.2 minutes per game this season.
The Rockets’ and Pelicans’ reported interest in Smith makes sense for three reasons.
First, they each need to do something to avoid missing the playoffs. Both teams have losing records and are outside the top eight in the West.
The Rockets are 2-6 in their last eight and only scored 91 points in their two most recent games. The Pelicans are reeling after a 4-0 start and have significant road issues with just three wins in 13 tries.
Second, NBA.com lists Houston’s and New Orleans’ reserves at last and third-to-last, respectively, in bench scoring. Utah Jazz reserve forward Derrick Favors just recently scored as many points (12) in the first half of his team’s 118-91 win on Thursday as the Rockets bench did combined. The Pelicans bench was outscored 53-11 in a 107-103 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
Third, Smith can still get hot from downtown as evidenced by when he hit five three-pointers in a 113-112 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors in last year’s playoffs.
Although Smith’s nights of dropping 15 points per game are likely behind him, he’d be one of the better scoring options on either team’s bench.