J.R. Smith left the NBA during the lockout to play in China in an attempt to stay active while continuing to be paid to perform his profession. It's gone well in Asia for the former Denver Nuggets sharpshooter, but the swingman's season is nearly over and rumors are beginning to circulate as to which teams are interested in his services for the remainder of the NBA's season.
Smith is averaging 35.4 points and shooting 50 percent from three-point land for the Zhejiang Wanma Cyclones in 27 games played this season, but their season will be ending within the next month -- and possibly by All-Star weekend if his team (15-12) misses the playoffs. NBA teams have begun to circle like vultures as they await his return, too, with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers seemingly being the most interested parties at this juncture.
The Clippers don't have much money left under the salary cap after signing Kenyon Martin last week, but the Los Angeles Times reports that there's a chance Smith might be willing to take their remaining $2.5 million mid-level exception. It doesn't sound like much, but the allure of playing with former teammates Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Martin might be enough to take him to Lob City.
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni told the New York Post that his team would be "aggressive" in their pursuit of Smith, but they also are strapped with only the $2.5 million exception ... and not quite the destination that the Clippers provide with Blake Griffin and Smith's former teammates.
If Smith doesn't end up in New York or with the Clippers, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers are also possible destinations for the sweet-shooting swingman.