“The Clippers, still not done dealing after signing Kenyon Martin on Friday, will pursue guard J.R. Smith after the team he plays on in the Chinese Basketball Assn. finishes its season and he becomes eligible to play in the NBA, said a person not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The Clippers aren’t getting enough production off the bench behind small forward Caron Butler and feel as if Smith can provide the team with a big scoring punch at the position, the person said.
Smith, a 6-6 wing player, averaged 12.5 points on 42.8% shooting, including 37.1% from three-point range, during his seven-year NBA career with New Orleans and Denver.
He would be an unrestricted free agent that the Clippers could sign to the mini-mid-level exception of $2.5 million, or for the veteran minimum of about $1 million.
Under the CBA rules, Smith still can’t return to the NBA until his Zhejiang Golden Bulls team’s season is over. If the Golden Bulls miss the playoffs, it could open the door for Smith to return to the NBA by the All-Star weekend, Feb. 25-26.