Lakers work out JR Smith and Dion Waiters as they seek to fill final roster spot

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters in action during the first half against the Clippers on Jan. 24 in Miami.
(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

The Lakers worked out JR Smith and Dion Waiters on Monday as they began the process to fill their final roster spot, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The team might bring in other players and is in no rush to fill the spot, according to people familiar with their plans.

Waiters worked out for the Lakers on Monday morning, in a session one source said was impressive. He then met with Vice President of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka — his former agent — Coach Frank Vogel and special adviser Kurt Rambis, who helps steer the front office.

Waiters, a 28-year-old shooting guard, has averaged 13.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and shot 34.8% from three-point range, 41.2% overall. He started his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012 and overlapped with LeBron James there for one year.

LeBron James finishes with a triple-double and shows off some moves in front of Zion Williamson during the Lakers’ 122-114 victory over the Pelicans.

March 1, 2020

The Lakers had interest in Waiters after Pelinka became general manager in 2017, but Waiters re-signed with Miami. He became a regular starter for the Heat but was hampered by injuries, and his time there ended in rocky fashion.

He was suspended three times this fall and then traded to Memphis as part of the deal that sent Andre Iguodala to Miami. The Grizzlies then waived Waiters, who has played only three games this season.

Smith is a 34-year-old guard who has made 41.9% of his shots in his career and 37.3% of his three-point attempts. He was the sixth man of the year in the 2012-13 season and was traded to Cleveland in the deal that sent Waiters to Oklahoma City. He had a casual conversation with Pelinka and Vogel after his workout.


His shooting range and connection with James are part of what interests the Lakers. Smith played some of his best basketball with James on the Cavaliers, reaching four consecutive NBA Finals.

During the 2018-19 season, after James left Cleveland, Smith played in only 11 games for the rebuilding Cavaliers. The team announced in November 2018 that Smith no longer would be with the team and waived him in June. He’s been out of the NBA since then.

The roster opening was created Sunday when the Lakers waived Troy Daniels in an effort to maintain flexibility while still allowing the backup guard an opportunity to sign with another playoff team. Had they waived Daniels one day later he would not have been eligible for the playoffs. Daniels’ agent, Mark Bartelstein, worked with the Lakers to make sure his client had an opportunity to sign elsewhere.

The Lakers last month signed forward Markieff Morris after waiving DeMarcus Cousins. Before the Lakers played at New Orleans on Sunday, Vogel said they had no imminent plans to add another player.

“If we were to do something and cross that road at some point, and we had to use Troy’s roster spot, then Troy would be left out in the cold,” Vogel said. “So we wanted to do the right thing by the player and also obviously give ourselves some flexibility if we need to make some type of move in the future.”



When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

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Update: Philadelphia will be missing three starters: Joel Embiid, who has a shoulder sprain, Ben Simmons, who has a back injury, and Josh Richardson, who suffered a concussion Saturday against the Clippers. The 76ers are 37-24 and tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.