Making his first public comments after signing with the Lakers last week to replace starting goalie Avery Bradley, who has retired from the rest of the season mainly due to family concerns, Smith said he would not take this opportunity. for granted. Although other replacement players in the league join teams with some sort of language in their contract for next season, he only focuses on the immediate role he is asked to play.
“I was gone for a while, and to be someone who has been in the league mainly for most of their adult lives, when it is taken away from you, it gives you a culture shock and you don’t understand obviously not what you lost until he left, “said Smith, who split from the Cleveland Cavaliers on difficult terms in November 2018.” So for me more than anything, I just want to enjoy the moment for what it is and whether it will be next year or never again, i just want to enjoy every moment possible. ”
Smith certainly had his moments in Cleveland. He helped lift the Cavs to their first and only championship in franchise history, getting hot in the third quarter of game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to keep Cleveland keeping pace with a record Golden State team. Warriors. He also helped the Cavs skip an upset opportunity in the opening game of the 2018 final by forgetting the score late in regulation before Cleveland ultimately lost in overtime.
The latter unleashed a meme that is still touring the Internet, showing a perplexed LeBron James, reaching out in frustration, directing his disgust at Smith for the blunder.
Smith said having high-stakes experiences like the ones with James – they reached four finals in four years as teammates – is a value he will bring to the team, beyond shooting ability for which he is known.
“First-hand, I know how Bron can get mad, and there are people who won’t know how to deal with it,” said Smith. “So that gives this gap in understanding, it’s always about winning. ”
Smith referred to the ESPN The Last Dance docuseries, which led some viewers to criticize Michael Jordan’s sometimes harsh interactions with his teammates on the Chicago Bulls.
James, said Smith, has a similar drive to win.
“Sometimes it goes wrong,” Smith said of James. “And you need this bridge as a player to be able to go to the next player and say,” Look man, this is nothing personal, [don’t get caught up in] who was right, who was wrong.
“It’s just a good balance, I think, between me and him, because he knows as well that he can challenge anyone else, I will challenge him, and vice versa.” ”
Smith, 34, has known James, 35, since they were both in high school. He can interpret the behavior of the quadruple MVP throughout a season better than most of the others.
“When you get someone at this level, it’s a little intimidating for a lot of people who don’t know how to challenge authority,” said Smith. “But it’s something I’ve never really had a problem with. So talk to him, [into] things like that, getting into difficult conversations with our teammates, I think that’s the biggest thing. Because it’s the only way to grow as men and as a team. ”
Career shooter at 37.3% from 3 to 15 seasons with New Orleans, Denver, New York and Cleveland, Smith offers Lakers coach Frank Vogel another new scoring option on his bench, with Dion Waiters who was added to the team before the coronavirus hiatus but has not yet played a Laker uniform match.
“It is clear that he has done a remarkable job in keeping fit and staying ready,” said Vogel. “And I think it’s really a great story. When you look at a guy who could potentially be out of the league and who was a starter in the finals a few years ago, a champion, so that he has the persistence to stay ready and give himself this opportunity, I think that he must be congratulated.
“Watching him train, hey, his nickname is ‘Swish’ for a reason, right? He’s a gunner, a heavy gun. Like I said, he looks like he’s in great physical condition. And like I said all along, I think it will really help us. “