Factoids learned at Monday's practice about the newest Laker:
Smith is enjoying his 16th season in the NBA, long enough to have been included in a 1998 trade with Brian Shaw, now his assistant coach. (In a more recent development, he was also included in a three-way 2008 trade involving Shannon Brown.)
He's a well traveled athlete. It's been 12 teams for Smith, six alone since 2006. He even managed to get traded to, from, and be reacquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers between February 2008 and March 2009. But incredibly, save half a season in Philly with Theo Ratliff, Smith has somehow managed to never have played with any of his current teammates. This feels mathematically impossible, between his tenure and the amount of times Ratliff, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes have also changed squads. Apparently not.
A career as an NBA vagabond has made the big man a renter just like the rest of us. Save a place in Arizona, he has no permanent residence. Sensible man, that Joe Smith.
Because work has uprooted Smith so many times, he's a pro at the art of moving. The art of "making small spaces bigger than they appear," as he phrased it. However, constant relocation hasn't turned him into a bitter, bossy crab. He brought 12 suitcases (non-matching) with him for the road trip and eventual arrival in L.A., which turned problematic in Toronto where players have to lug their own bags. Um, hello! Wasn't he aware of Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks, who are on the team in large part to schlep his stuff around?"I know, but I'm new, so I didn't want to put them to work," smiled Smith.
Smith was a huge Lakers fan growing up, and Magic Johnson was his "idol." Thus, even as a bona fide journeyman, landing here doesn't feel like just place to drop his luggage. "This is a little more special than all the other stops I've been," confirmed Smith. "I'm not saying those stops weren't special. This has just a little more edge to it."
You can follow Smith on twitter at @JoeBeast95. And prepare to get in line, because the dude's tweeps have multiplied like rabbits the second he was traded to the Lakers. 3,000 followers and counting, he noted proudly.
As for his role with the Lakers, Smith isn't putting cart ahead of horse. First, he needs to learn the triangle, then worry about how he's being used. (Credentials, however, include the ability to stretch the floor from mid-range, plus solid rebounding and defense.) Along those same lines, Smith is a famously good locker room guy, but with a team like this one, veteran-laden and possessing a clear hierarchy, he'll likely ease back before making his presence felt. Mostly, he just wants a shot at a championship and relishes being in what he considers the best position of his entire career of getting one. Whatever is asked of him while in L.A., I'm guessing the answer will be "yes."
Check out the videos below from Smith's first meeting with the L.A. media.