ESPN Insider says J.R. Smith could be a viable option for the Celtics

In his ranking of the best remaining free agents available, ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton mapped how the Celtics could clear enough room to get Cleveland shooting guard J.R. Smith.

Considering his rep and rap sheet, you can't help but recoil at the thought of J.R. Smith playing for your team. Smith has long been known as a poor decision maker on and off the court, between the occasional "LeeRoy Jenkins" complex of gunning poor shots from all distances, posting rear end pictures of models on twitter, and of course, for a lucky few of us in the world, handing out invitations to get the pipe.

And that's all before mentioning the suspension-worthy incidents in the postseason against the Celtics.

But this past summer, he added "Starter on an NBA World Champion" to his resume. And as much as Cleveland's Game 7 triumph was about LeBron's block, Kyrie's dagger, and Love's defense on Curry, Smith's shooting at the start of the third quarter deserves a strong mention.

Cleveland entered halftime with a seven-point deficit, danger time for most Golden State opponents as any Warrior lead could triple in mere moments. Instead, Smith scored eight points in the first 2:27 of the second half, shooting Cleveland back into the game. That stretch highlights JR's greatest skill: long distance shooting.

Smith shot 40% from three-point territory last season, but as impressively, did so while attempting 500 threes. Only Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson attempted more and converted at a higher rate from downtown. Of the 22 NBA players who attempted at least 400 threes, Smith ranked only behind Curry, Thompson, C.J. McCollum, and J.J. Redick in percentage made.

It's worth noting that he'll never get the kinds of looks in Boston that he would playing off of Irving and James. Also, it's apparent playing alongside James has (mostly) knocked the much of the knucklehead out of Smith. The bad incidents are fewer and farther in between. He wouldn't be playing with someone as much as he respects James.

But considering that outside shooting still remains a weak point, Boston may want to give Smith some consideration.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PatBernadeau