In what may be a motivational tactic in an attempt to set J.R. Smith straight, the New York Knicks seem to be putting him (or at least leaking it) on the trading block, without anyone actually interested.
On his good days J.R. Smith is a very talented and explosive scorer, but there haven’t been many like them this season. He is averaging 11.3 points per game this season (compared to 18.1) without losing too many minutes compared to the past, while his shooting has dropped to an awful 34.8% from the field. Maybe the injury that kept him out early this season, traced back to last year’s playoffs, is still affecting him, but there’s a shot it has nothing to do with his physical condition and more with his state of mind.
Smith has been fined by the NBA for untying Shawn Marion’s shoe just before the two jumped for a rebound. He did the same thing on the next game against Greg Monroe, only it didn’t really work out for him, as Monroe reacted quickly and blocked him. So did the league.
Are the Knicks really tired of Smith? There’s a chance they are, but they know that he has a contract that makes it almost impossible to move him. Smith was signed for three years on the Mid-Level-Exception during the offseason, which means he’s owed $5.9 million next season and has a player option (which he will pick up) for the 2015-2016 season worth $6.3 million. Considering how he’s been playing so far, that’s not worth it for any team.
But there’s the other side to this. The Knicks might be a badly run organization, but they’re not that stupid, right? They know there’s no market out there for Smith, so they’re trying to use this rumor to give Smith a chance to get back on track – stop with the cheating attempts that only get him and the team in trouble, and hopefully it also does something about his reckless style, which has sunk to new depths this season.