Done Deal: JR Smith In. Renaldo Balkman Out

It is a done deal. Whether you love it or hate it, JR Smith is a New York Knick. Renaldo Balkman, who was probably hated by most Knick fans, will be released according to Berman of the Post:

According to multiple sources, Smith, who played in China during the lockout and became eligible to sign an NBA deal on Wednesday, will be at the Garden tonight, but won’t make his debut until Sunday against the Mavericks.

The Knicks have to cut a player to make room for Smith and Renaldo Balkman, who has been out of the rotation since early January, is the expected candidate, according to a source. Coach Mike D’Antoni was never a big fan of Balkman, a throw-in to the trade with the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony. Balkman has one remaining year at $1.8 million and could have been an amnesty casualty if the Knicks were still going for 2012 cap space.

I noted earlier in my JR Smith pros/cons post that indeed the Knicks new addition is a big risk. He’s been known to be a defensive liability and he has had a vast history of off-court problems. However, I am of this belief. I believe that defense is effort and that Smith is athletic enough to play well defensively when he puts in the effort. I also believe that the Knicks have a solid support system in place. Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis and Amar’e Stoudemire have been great leaders for this Knick team and I expect them to keep JR Smith on a tight leash.

This signing does provide me with a small moral victory as well. As anyone who follows me on Twitter (@tarmosino) or follows the site knows, I am not a fan of Bill Walker. Nothing personal against the man, I just don’t think he can play. In theory, this signing should cut his minutes way down. Walker logged solid rotation minutes playing both small forward and shooting guard but Smith can play both those positions and is a far better talent than Walker.

For more analysis on Smith’s impact with the Knicks, check out my aforementioned JR Smith Pros/Cons article. Thanks.


The Pros and Cons of Bringing JR Smith to New York

It has been widely rumored that JR Smith will be a New York Knick soon enough. The Knicks and Smith have had mutual interest for months and the Knicks reportedly will be using their 2.5 “room exception” on Smith. It is also rumored that Smith is trying to work in a player option for next season.

The Knicks bench has been porous this season. With the emergence of Jeremy Lin, the Knicks bench has played stronger as of late but this still is not a championship level bench. The Knicks bench ranks 26th in the league in points per game, they are dead last in rebounds and they are 25th in field goal percentage.

Enter JR Smith. The ex-Denver Nugget has elite athleticism and scoring ability. He is an absolute wizard with the basketball and has deep shooting range. Defensively, Smith is a gambler. He rated above the league average in Defensive Plays Rate (via Hoopdata) which measures defensive blocks, steals and charges taken. Smith gambles a lot defensively and therefore does get a lot of steals. He rated 8th last season in steals per minutes among shooting guards and he rated 5th in total rebounds among shooting guards. He shows flashes of strong defense but has not done so consistently and is notoriously thought of as a weak defender. Given his athleticism, Smith does have the potential to be a solid defender but he has not shown any willingness to do so in his 4 year NBA career. There is a basic assessment of JR Smith’s game. The question now is how does he fit on this Knicks team? Here are the pros and cons of the Knicks signing JR Smith: Continue reading