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J.R. Smith returns to USA Wednesday, who gets him?

Feb 14, 2012, 12:40 PM EDT

CBA 11/12 First Round: Guangdong Hongyuan v Zhejiang Chouzhou Getty Images

In the next 24 hours, J.R. Smith will be on the long flight from China — where he signed to play during the lockout — back to the United States. He tweeted this the other day.

Ladies and Gentleman I am happy to tell you my return to the United States is offical! I will be home Febreuary 15, 2012! #Hyped!

But what is interesting is what is written in his bio area at the top of his twitter home page:


Those are the known teams interested in signing Smith for the rest of the season.

So, when his plane lands, where does he go next?

The Knicks are considered the frontrunner because they can offer him the $2.5 mini mid-level exception plus plenty of minutes as the starting two guard. I’m not sure even Jeremy Lin can distribute the ball enough to keep Carmelo Anthony and Smith thinking they got enough shots, but there certainly is a fit there. And a big stage to be on.

Chris Paul is taking on the job of lead recruiter for the Clippers, and they too can offer him a starting spot (with Chauncey Billups out injured for the season). The Clippers are a better team than the Knicks, but they can’t offer as much money — L.A. can only offer the veteran’s minimum, and it is pro-rated over a longer period of time than the Knicks offer so it’s considerably less money.

The Pacers are a team whose name popped up in an ESPN article as having interest, and with them being listed by him clearly there has been some contact. The Pacers are below the salary cap and can offer more money than any other team. However, Mike Wells of the Indy Star says the Pacers are not as interested anymore.

ESPN mentions interest by the Timberwolves, but they don’t show up on Smith’s twitter list.

The Lakers need outside shooting and could give Smith minutes at the two (and start Kobe Bryant at the three), but they too can only offer the veteran’s minimum. The Bulls would have fewer minutes to offer once Rip Hamilton comes back, but they are a contender so a ring is involved. Orlando needs another shot creator and certainly has the minutes to give out. None of those teams has much money to give, however.

Look for a decision to be made by the end of the week. And most likely Smith will become part of the “Linsanity” in New York. But Smith can be a bit unpredictable, so don’t bet the rent money on that.

  1. mgscott - Feb 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Welcome to L.A.

  2. khandor - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    With the addition of JR Smith to their current line-up, the LA Lakers would, once again, become a favourite to win the Western Conference.

    • pudgalvin - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      So he can stand next to Bynum and Gasol and watch Kobe shoot?

      He’d be a nice piece, but that doesn’t make them the favorite.

      • khandor - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:05 PM

        Actually … the addition of a legitimate scorer from the wing position, with good size and athleticism for an Off Guard, in the form of JR Smith, would allow the Lakers to remove Kobe Bryant [OG-SF-PG] from the game for longer stretches of time without fear that their offense will run dry, while depending almost exclusively on the somewhat inconsistent scoring exploits of their interior players, i.e. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. As the season grinds on … every minute of rest which the Lakers can give Kobe will pay dividends in the playoffs. In addition, when the post-season arrives … a 5-man unit that looks like this:

        PG, Kobe Bryant
        OG, JR Smith
        SF, Metta World Peace
        PF, Pau Gasol
        C, Andrew Bynum

        would be very potent for the Lakers at crunch-time.

    • cured76 - Feb 14, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      I think that’d be horrible for LAL, actually. A ball-hog like Smith on a team with an alpha male ball hogger like Kobe would not do well.

    • jolink653 - Feb 15, 2012 at 10:16 AM

      no way smith makes them better than the thunder and if anything he makes LA worse with the amount of shots he takes…i don’t want him on the knicks because i think he’d do the same thing and the last thing the knicks need now is to have smith come in and go back to his ballhogging ways

  3. dysraw1 - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    JR Smith is a bad man meaning he has real court skills and its true the knicks another outside shooter, but there is also an attitude problem so the question here is can he be happy in NY

    • makjak2 - Feb 14, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      sounds like a nice fit. Dolan loves throwing money at guys with bad attitude problems

  4. Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Good thing he’s not entering a spelling bee.

  5. SmackSaw - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Lakers. They should also sign Arenas. Smith, Arenas and Artest on the same team. Let the hilarity ensue.

  6. raidmagic - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Hmmmm Smith to Orlando…interesting thought but I doubt it could happen

  7. propjoe718 - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    I could see him choosing to sign with the Knicks because
    He is from jersey, the only thing that worries me about JR
    Smith is he’s already had trouble as an adult . He thinks he
    is a gangsta and his family caused problems in china what’s
    he gonna do if he comes back to his old stomping grounds
    In the ny/nj area? he is a talented player and a huge upgrade
    Over Fields but he is a moron!! The Knicks need this guy though.

  8. blakegriffin32 - Feb 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    If he’s smart, he’ll join the Clippers. Being the starting shooting guard on a team which demands so much attention to Chris Paul and Blake griffin is too good to give up. Having a distributor like paul is just too perfect. Hell also be able to adequately display his talents to be able to get a new contract next year. Just my two cents.

  9. rohlo - Feb 14, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    wonder if lakers make a push for point gaurd aaron brooks????

    • bebopa - Feb 14, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      they should make a move for brooks

  10. raven410 - Feb 14, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    It’s offical!!!

  11. cantonbound13 - Feb 14, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    The Big 5 in NY!!! Love it!!! Who’s going to stop Carmelo, Amare, Chandler, Lin & Smith? Not to mention having a bench featuring Baron Davis, Fields, Shumpert, Novak (3 pt specialist) Douglas & Jeffries. This will be a true dream TEAM, unlike the overrated one in South Beach.

  12. pistolpete0903 - Feb 14, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Do like what the Nuggets did most of the time. Bring him from the bench.
    Could be good on a tem looking for shooters; LAC seems a good fit.

  13. jagwar73 - Feb 14, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    Come to Orlando and take all the shots you want to. Otis pay the man.

  14. cluelessdufus - Feb 15, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    he probably has a chance with the Clippers or my Bulls clippers need a SG without Chauncy Billups and the bulls RIP is always hurt

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