Former Los Angeles Lakers guard JR Smith says he’s been blackballed by the NBA, according to a recent interview with Pierce Simpson of Complex Sports.
When asked if he believed NBA teams were blackballing him, Smith replied, “Yeah, a hundred percent.”
“I mean, anybody can sit here and tell you that that’s a fact,” the former Laker continued. “You got 30 teams — give me the four through 15th men. Just the four through 15. Name one that’s better than me.”
General managers have reached out to the two-time NBA champion, investigating why the guard has not yet been signed by a team since the 2019-20 season.
J.R. Smith says he, Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, Nick Young and Joe Johnson have been blackballed from the NBA.
Link below for full #ComplexVolume story and interview with J.R. Smith.
🔗: https://t.co/HJEfAcMDgC pic.twitter.com/sR7XsSbztz
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 2, 2022
However, not one of the 30 teams have even offered Smith a training camp deal. And to answer Smith’s question, Carmelo Anthony and Montrezl Harrell are better than him. Both players are free agents. This is all about business.
The 16-year veteran also believes he’s not the only player being blackballed. The guard listed Jamal Crawford, Nick Young, Joe Johnson and Isaiah Thomas.
Johnson turned 41 over the summertime. So, the seven-time All-Star has his age working against him. Unlike Miami Heat forward/center Udonis Haslem, now 42, Johnson’s offensive production has decreased exponentially.
The Arkansas product was out of the league from 2018–21. That alone can make it harder on a player to compete with younger stars during training camp. Johnson’s career is over.
Former Laker JR Smith says he’s been blackballed by NBA
Furthermore, Smith’s final game was in Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals. In the Lakers’ 115-104 loss to the Miami Heat, the guard ended his performance with just 3 points and 1 steal in 5 minutes of action.
The Lakers went on to defeat the Heat in six games to win their 17th championship in franchise history. The guard won both of his rings with four-time Finals MVP LeBron James. His first ring was won with the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors in 2016.
In just six games played with the Lakers in the 2021-22 regular season, Smith averaged 2.8 points and 13.2 minutes per game while shooting 31.8% from the floor.
Since the guard underperformed in those six regular season games with the Lakers, his services were no longer needed. The 16-year veteran turns 37 next Friday. At this point, his career is probably over.
Isaiah Thomas can still help any playoff contender off the bench. After signing two 10-day contracts and a standard deal with the Charlotte Hornets last season, Thomas averaged 8.4 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in 22 appearances.
While Thomas is a free agent right now, he won’t remain unsigned throughout the entirety of the 2022-23 season. The 33-year-old has the talent to help any team.
As for JR Smith, he’s not getting any younger. If he is getting blackballed by the league, talking about it will not help his situation.
His effort disappointed fans in his final season with the Lakers. His pedestrian performances in 2019 and 2020 might explain why teams are not giving him another chance.