LOS ANGELES — J.R. Smith has joined LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for their championship push.

The Lakers announced their long-anticipated signing of Smith as a substitute player Wednesday, the first day allowed under the rules of the NBA’s summer restart.

Smith is the Lakers’ roster replacement for Avery Bradley, who cited family reasons last week for his decision not to finish the season with his team in Orlando amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re not going to ask him to come in and be Avery Bradley,” Lakers Coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s going to come in and be J.R. Smith. He’s going to just fill that position more than fill that role. Avery’s loss is obviously a huge loss for us, but we’re a next-man-up team. J.R. is going to come in and help fill that need, but we have a lot of guys in that position that can do the same.”

The 34-year-old Smith hasn’t played in the NBA since November 2018, but the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year is a longtime trusted teammate of James. During their four years together with the Cleveland Cavaliers, they won a title in 2016 and reached four consecutive NBA finals.

“That was a factor, his familiarity with LeBron,” Vogel said. “The way we’ve built our team around LeBron, there’s a lot of similarities to the way they built their team in Cleveland. That definitely is a factor in what we feel like J.R. can bring to the table in what is going to be a very short time to get acclimated.”

Vogel also said the Lakers remain “hopeful and optimistic” that center Dwight Howard will be with the team in Orlando. Howard hasn’t made a final decision while contemplating the welfare of his 6-year-old son, whose mother died earlier this year.

MAVERICKS: The Dallas Mavericks signed guard Trey Burke after center Willie Cauley-Stein decided not to rejoin the team for the planned resumption of the season.

Burke spent part of the 2018-19 season with the Mavericks after coming over in the blockbuster trade that also brought Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks.

Burke, 27, played 25 games this season with Philadelphia before he was waived in February, about a month before the NBA shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cauley-Stein, acquired in a deal with Golden State before the trading deadline this year, opted out of playing because of the impending birth of his daughter this month.

CLIPPERS: Coach Doc Rivers says Lou Williams is expected to join the team for the NBA’s restart in Florida.

Williams has described himself as “50-50” on whether he would finish out the pandemic-interrupted season because he didn’t want to distract from the ongoing push for social justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody.

“Obviously, up until we get on the plane, anything can happen,” Rivers said during a video conference with media Wednesday. “But I do expect Lou to be with us. I would be very surprised if he’s not.”

Williams, last year’s Sixth Man of the Year, was averaging 18.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 60 games before the league shut down in March due to the coronavirus.

76ERS: Coach Brett Brown says All-Star guard Ben Simmons is “good to go” for the NBA restart after sitting out the final games before the shutdown with a back injury.

Brown, of South Portland, whose contract runs through 2021-22, also expected fellow All-Star Joel Embiid to start the season in the best shape of his professional career.

The Sixers need their franchise stars at full strength if one of the early favorites to win the East Conference can shake off both an ordinary regular season (39-26; 6th in the East) and a nearly five-month layoff to return contenders for their first NBA championship since 1983.

The 23-year-old Simmons had missed his eighth straight game and was receiving daily treatment for his nerve issues in his lower back when the season stopped. Embiid was recovering from surgery on his left hand and had just returned after missing five games with a sprained left shoulder at the time of the shutdown.


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