Lakers’ Choice: Dion Waiters or J.R. Smith

Dion Waiters
Mar 23, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters (3) defends New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith (8) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers waived Troy Daniels on Sunday, giving the guard an opportunity to seek a bigger role elsewhere. In doing so, they also opened up a roster spot which they could fill with a number of free agents for added depth in the postseason.

Two players seem to be on the Lakers’ radar more than others with both Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith scheduled to have meetings and work out for the team this week.

If it comes down to it, which of these veteran guards should the Lakers sign for the remainder of the season?

You’ve heard all the comparisons between the two. Smith hasn’t played since November 2018. Waiters has appeared in three games all year. Smith is an efficient 3-point shooter while Waiters can get his own shot off more consistently. Smith is the better defender but neither exert themselves consistently on that end of the floor.

But all that talk is boring and none of it separates one from the other. Instead, the Lakers should focus on the comedy factor between the two Shaqtin A Fool All-Stars.

In one corner, we have J.R. Smith:

Smith is a journeyman and a champion who was playfully admonished by President Obama for not wearing a shirt for approximately 14 weeks after the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from down 3-1 to win the title against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors who had the unanimous MVP (people forget that). He was labeled the Henny God during his time with the Knicks despite his insistence that he doesn’t even like Hennessy.

J.R. routinely scorched teams in the playoffs alongside LeBron James (40.9 percent shooter in four postseasons with the Cavaliers) and yet he will best be remembered for grabbing an offensive rebound in the closing seconds of regulation in a tied NBA Finals game and letting the clock wind down instead of going up for a shot or passing it out.

Smith’s greatest hits include throwing SOUP at a Cavaliers assistant coach but his greatest contribution to NBA comedy has always been the biggest heat-check he ever pulled:

Never stop shooting your shot, J.R.

In the other corner, we have Dion Waiters.

On the court, Waiters has the same mentality as Smith. He will shoot every shot believing with every fiber in his being that it will go in. The universal sign of “I’m open, pass me the ball!” is etched into Waiters’ body like he was frozen into that shape.

Off the court, Waiters lives with the same bravado and belief of invincibility. The Philly native used to tell college teammates to call him Kobe Wade as he was an amalgamation of the two legendary shooting guards that came before him. The cockiness is what led to fans seeking shelter in his corner on the home affectionately dubbed Waiters Island.

This season, Waiters turned it up a notch, earning suspensions from the stern Miami Heat multiple times, including once for passing out and suffering seizures on the team plane because he had consumed an edible. A lack of trust (and injuries) led to Waiters playing in only three games before being traded to the Grizzlies and getting bought out. But make no mistake, Dion has not given up on bringing theater to the basketball court.

The evidence has been presented and it’s up to you to decide who you want the Lakers to sign. I know my money is on J.R Smith.

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