Remember when NBA king of Twitter J.R Smith was barraged with harsh criticism from Knicks fans right after the Knicks lost to the Heat in five games back in May? I certainly remember that and the majority of Knick fans certainly remember that too. Of course his dismal shooting performances in the playoffs were a key to the Knicks losing, but at the same time, the Heat aren’t exactly the easiest team to get by with an injury prone team. People’s expectations can be a bit ridiculous. J.R was basically being relied on by Knick fans to light a fire with his shooting prowess. He is a prime example of a hot and cold shooter, but in that series, he was cold as ice, he simply wasn’t willing to sacrifice.
Knick fans should of known what they were going to get in J.R. I, for one, knew that J.R was an outstanding bench threat when he was with the Nuggets, and played a decent bench and starter role in his early days with the Hornets. But at the same time, he’s a shooter, and whenever you hear the word “shooter” you go like “hmm… when he has hot shooting nights, we’ll love him, and when he has cold shooting nights, we’ll mutilate him with trade and waiving threats.” or “he’s SO inconsistent.” You get the gist of it.
When the “J.R going to the Knicks rumors” were in the air, I stood right up and said “SIGN HIM.” It’s not because he was reuniting with former Nuggets now Knicks teammate Carmelo Anthony, it’s because the bench needed another shooter who can actually drive the ball and shoot on the perimeter and so forth, besides Steve Novak, who is a classic example of a spot-up shooter and can’t drive for shit. Now, I’m not dissing Novak at all. Novak’s Jeff Hornacek/Steve Kerr hybrid is a dead giveaway at this point, shooting .472 from beyond the arc, which lead the NBA and sedated all other three point shooters with intravenous doses of Novakaine. It’s just that when you’re penned as a spot-up shooter, don’t expect to see non-threes and any driving whatsoever (we did witness some driving by Novak, and it was hideous).
In J.R’s debut against the Mavericks back in February, he had an outstanding start, going 3-3 from beyond the arc. J.R ultimately finished making 6-16 from the field scoring 15 points. And yeeeeeeeeeeeeah. That is the definition of a shooter, regardless if he’s off the bench or not. The contract J.R signed in February, though, was far beyond strange. Was it because of his arrival back into the States after a failed stint in China? Possibly. J.R didn’t take his option, which I think was a colossal mistake because it was a bargain at $2.5M, but you’re looking at J.R Smith right here, and that being said: It’s all about the Benjamin’s.
If the Knicks can retain J.R, I’ll be very happy. The causual fan would say “THIS GUY SUCKS!” ( like most posers on Twitter and in real life that don’t really follow basketball), but the common fan doesn’t know what he/she is exactly talking about most of the time. After all, J.R, you’re playing in relatively the biggest sports market in the United States besides the California market. J.R’s tenure with the Knicks shouldn’t end as a rent-a-player deal after abysmal shooting woes in the playoffs against a ferocious Heat team with a hyper-injured Knicks first unit and team. I really think that Mike Woodson would give a helping hand to J.R and improve his gaping holes in his shooting game.
And really, I really have no clue what teams would have an appetite for him either. For one exception, I said the Raptors, but in a jokingly way. That one is up in the air, for sure. Forget the peer pressure, J.R. Sign back with New York because you know your family in Jersey would love to see you back in the tri-state area. I mean, you love to play in the mecca of basketball, MSG, right? We sure could use your epic impossible-but-makes-it-possible stepback jumpers and scoring during garbage time minutes while you have Jerome Jordan somewhere in the background greatly eulogizing your garbage time scoring. COME BACK, J.R!
Follow James on Twitter @JGriffo31