The New York Knicks are reportedly shopping J.R. Smith, the mercurial shooting guard and reigning Sixth Man of the Year who was just fined $50,000 for a peculiar shoelace fetish, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ian Begley.
From ESPN New York:
While they acknowledge that a trade may be difficult to pull off, the New York Knicks in recent days began exploring the potential market for guard J.R. Smith, ESPN.com has learned.
Sources close to the situation said Wednesday that the organization has become increasingly frustrated with Smith’s on- and off-the-court transgressions and may feel that a fresh start would be best for all parties.
Wednesday’s fine didn’t necessarily push the Knicks over the top, but one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said the organization has become “fed up” with Smith’s erratic behavior.
New York is frustrated with his behavior? You don’t say? Here I was thinking the Knicks were all about stupid fines, inappropriate pictures, references to family jewels and pipes, and threats pertaining to Brandon Jennings.
All we can really say is: It’s about time.
Per CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, it was time long ago. He writes that the Knicks began exploring “trade options for the mercurial guard several days or perhaps as long as two weeks prior” to his shoelace incident. Good to know they drew the line well before his latest gaffe.
The problem is actually trading him. The Knicks can shop him all they want, but there has to be a market for him first. Which there isn’t.
“Good luck with that,” one rival executive told Berger of New York’s current endeavor.
Good luck with that indeed. Smith is playing terrible basketball this season, averaging a 11.3 points on 34.8 percent shooting per game. Not exactly the encore performance the Knicks were looking for after signing him to a three-year, $18-million contract over the summer.
On his best days, Smith is a high-scoring guard who can light it up from deep. But his best days have been few and far between this season. Whether it’s his surgically repaired knee or fragile psyche, it’s clear something’s off. Something’s wrong.
A fresh start may be just what he needs at this point. Perhaps playing in a lower-key market or for a more stable organization will allow him to return to form, or at the very least keep him at bay.
It’s no secret the Knicks would love a fresh start themselves, free from his contract. Their free-agency ambitions demand maximum financial flexibility and with Smith’s contract on the books beyond 2014-15, he’s a fiscal liability.
But he’s one that’s likely going nowhere.
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski says the Knicks are simply trying to “scare” Smith with trade talks, showing him that he isn’t untouchable or above letter of the law. Makes sense, because he probably cannot be traded anyway. No team will want to take on his deal with the way he’s playing.
No team will want him at all with the headlines he continues to generate.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com.