Five Reasons Why The New York Knicks Should Part Ways With J.R. Smith

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J.R. Smith proved his worth throughout most of the 2012-13 NBA season by averaging 18.9 points per game, enough to take home the Sixth Man of the Year Award. The scoring punch he gave the New York Knicks off the bench was irreplaceable…or was it? Smith’s postseason was unspectacular to say the least. It seems inevitable that he will at least test free agency come July, and most New Yorkers would agree that he probably wore out his welcome.

1. MOST IMPORTANTLY – HIS MINUTES IMPEDE ON THE PROGRESSION OF SHUMP

Nothing should be more important to this team than seeing Iman Shumpert out to his full potential. The Knicks showed every bit of their age throughout a roller coaster season of injuries, re-injuries, and extended shooting slumps (cough! cough! Jason Kidd!). While the veteran based, win now method proved to be successful in hindsight, the playoff roster age of 31-plus years must be addressed. Shump showed that he can be a force offensively in the postseason, regaining his three-ball, throwing down one of the nastiest dunks of the year, and even stepping in to the J.R. role rather handily in the Knicks fateful Game 6 against Indiana last night. Having Smith on the floor not only takes shots away from Shump (and everybody else in the arena for that matter), but also forces Shumpert to play more time at the three, away from his natural position. Remember, he wasn’t able to improve his offense last offseason while rehabbing his ACL, so a summer’s worth of jump shots could make his game even more lethal. Everyone knows of his defensive tenacity, but we won’t get to see him evolve into one of the league’s best defenders if he’s often being subbed out for the offensive minded Smith.

2. HAS HE REALLY MATURED?

It was a nice story for most of the year. The new mindset that Coach Mike Woodson instilled in Smith was touching enough to make most fans laugh off the “You trying to get the pipe?” moments and non-stop partying, but his actions in the postseason were downright inexcusable. The fact that anyone has to even question if you’re playing the game hungover is suspicious and the disrespect he showed to Jason Terry and the Celtics may even be worse. If you thought you should’ve been out playing golf, go out there and prove it J.R.. Don’t waken a sleeping giant and then no-show a couple of close out games. Smith seemed to turn a corner throughout the season, but the most important time of the year showed the worst of his behavior.

3. HIS PRESENCE ENCOURAGES ISO-BALL

Isn’t one ball stopper enough? A bad shot from Melo is probably better than a good shot from most others, but the same doesn’t apply to Smith. Despite having a breakthrough statistical year, Smith showed no progression in passing the rock. His 2.7 assists per game were the second highest total of his career, but it took him a career-high 33 minutes, over five more per game than his second highest season, to get that done. The Knicks offense was at its best when the ball was flowing in the two point guard set, and Smith’s presence takes a passer away and replaces it with someone carrying a career average of 2.1 assists. The numbers say it all.

4. HE’LL BRING A HEFTY PRICE TAG

Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract is currently eating more salary cap than Eddy Curry is burgers, so it’s going to be tough for the Knicks to do anything too major this offseason. Brandon Jennings will be the prize guard come July, and will probably set the market with a near-max contract. Come to think of it, these two would be as perfect of a match as you can make for locker room negativity. It would be worth the price of admission just to see who could get up the most shots on a game-to-game basis, while nursing hangovers. Anyways, I digress. New York can only offer Smith a maximum of 4 years and $24.8 million, which could be blown out of the water by any number of teams with cap space. For the $2.8 million he made this year, we were willing to put up with his shenanigans, but the more that price goes up, the less patience will be had.

5. NO-SHOW? NO THANKS

The bottom line is you can’t perform like that in the postseason and expect to get paid. In the NBA, you earn your stripes in the playoffs, and for the most part, Smith shrunk in the moment. He’s certainly not the only reason why the Knicks were sent packing before most planned for them to be, but Melo had no support offensively, which was J.R.’s sole purpose in their success. Against Indiana, Smith averaged 12.7 points on 38% shooting from the field. His performance was purely unacceptable and shouldn’t be rewarded.

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6 thoughts on “Five Reasons Why The New York Knicks Should Part Ways With J.R. Smith

  1. mike woodson would be crazy to put up with jr for another year i know i dont want to and iam just a fan when you go to work you leave your kids at home you should not have to baby sit at work

    Reply
  2. Kevin…good post..some thoughts

    1-Shump’s improved jump shot has a lot to do with his injury. He’s on record as saying, how much he worked on his mechanics during the rehab. Even before he could practice, he was still able to work on his jump shot, and it shows. His form is noticeably different from last year. For him to take the next step, he needs to develop his off the dribble game. When Indy put West on him, it drove me nuts to watch him be hesitant. He should have attacked West every chance he got. If he had done that, Indy would have had to rethink George on ‘Melo. Shump played well. Had he gone at West, they might still be playing. There is no way West could have guarded him going to the basket.

    2-Had JR shot the ball well, this wouldn’t be coming up. I have no idea how much he was out, or wasn’t out. He’s a 28yr old, affluent male. As far as the Terry elbow. First, had the official called the Terry foul that elbow never occurs. Second, he certainly has to control his emotions better, but many an athlete has made that mistake. He certainly wasn’t the same after that, but his shot selection wasn’t noticeably different when he returned. He just went cold. My one issue with him is during his torrid streak, he continually took guys to the basket. I think he needs to ‘constant coaching’. Meaning, if he comes in and misses 2 consecutive jumpers, he MUST take the ball to the hoop before taking another. If he doesn’t, pull him out immediately and redirect him. He can’t make himself that easy to guard. Plus, when he goes to the hoop, he actually passes more, as a help defender usually comes to protect the rim, leaving someone else wide open.

    3-Very true point, but when this comes up, I always ask: everyone thinks the ball moves better when the NYK win. Go look at games again, in there wins there is still a lot of ISO. When you lose, people harp on it, when you win, you’re moving the ball more.

    4-This is easy. If someone wants to pay more than NY can pay, they lose. Ask yourself this though: if they can’t afford him, and he walks, who can they get to fit into his slot, who can take scoring pressure of ‘Melo, play good man to man D and play the style of game NY does? I actually believe Grunwald, and Walsh before him, have done a mediocre job, at best, filling this roster. Novak, Camby and even Kidd all take up money that could have been given to JR. JR isn’t perfect, but he was a lot more valuable to NY than any of those 3, who are all guaranteed to be here, sucking up cap space, next year and beyond (in Camby and Novak’s case).

    5-Lots of guys have had bad playoffs. I’m not going to name all the stars that have. What I will say is you have to get to the playoffs in order to play bad in them.

    NY has very limited ability to up grade the roster. In fact, Shumpert improving his offensive game is paramount to their future success. Tyson Chandler isn’t getting any better. Ray Felton isn’t getting any better. I’m not saying they are ‘bad’, they aren’t but it’s likely they’ve reached their ceilings. Now, maybe Amare comes back healthy and can give them 15-17 in 25 minutes. Maybe Copeland comes back better and can give them more. I think it’s fair to think Kidd will be less effective next year. Novak is good, when NY’s drive and kick game is working. But, he’s limited. So, before kicking JR to the curb, they need to figure out if they can add someone else better.

    Reply
    1. Good points! With all the guaranteed contracts which IMO were dumb contracts. who can replace JR with the money Knicks have to spend?I don’t know why they would guarantee Camby’s contract if they weren’t going to use him.
      With all you’ve pointed out, it may be best not to be quick to kick JR to the curb if he’ll stay for the short money.

      Reply
  3. Agree with all that there may not be a better option out there if the Knicks rid themselves of J.R., but is he worth the headache? That’s really Woodson’s call to make.

    Reply
    1. He’s going to opt out, and then he’ll see if someone is willing to pay up. What the NBA, heck pro sports, consistently does: overpay for upside. Headache, or not, he averaged 18.9ppg, which isn’t easy to replace.

      Reply
      1. It’s not easy to replace with one person but good shooters should be a dime a dozen this offseason.

        Reply

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