New York Knicks: J.R. Smith

J.R.'s goal for the season: 'Be a leader'

August, 21, 2014
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JR SmithNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesJ.R. Smith, in addition to helping kids, hopes to be a valuable reference for the Knicks in 2014.
J.R. Smith has several goals entering the 2014-15 season.

He wants to help the Knicks make the playoffs and contend in the Eastern Conference. He wants to produce consistently on both ends of the floor.

All of these are normal goals for any NBA player.

But Smith has one goal that may surprise you:

"Be a leader," Smith said in an interview with ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday at his foundation's annual golf fundraiser. "We've got so many younger guys around. A lot of the older guys left within the last two years. So be more of a leader and help out."

J.R. Smith
Smith
Smith is going into his 11th season, so he has the experience to take on a leadership role. But will he be able to transition from a player who has gotten into trouble, both on and off the court, to a player whom the Knicks organization can count on in a leadership role?

That's the goal.

"Just 'show instead of say' and stuff like that," Smith, speaking at his fundraiser for the J.R. Smith Youth Foundation at Eagle Ridge Golf Club, said when asked about his leadership approach. "'Sheed [Rasheed Wallace], J Kidd [Jason Kidd] -- those guys led by example and that's what I'm going to try to do."

Smith was involved in several incidents last season that drew the ire of the Knicks. Whether or not that compromises his ability to lead is a debate we'll leave for fans and members of the organization.

When it comes to on-court matters, Smith said he feels fully healthy coming into the season, which is different from how he was feeling last summer following offseason knee surgery.

The procedure hampered him early in the season and impacted his production. Smith found his form later in the season, hitting 43 percent of his 3-pointers in a starting role in the last six weeks of the season.

Now that he is fully healthy, Smith expects to produce on a more consistent basis this season. He also agrees with teammate and longtime friend Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks will be a playoff team this season after winning just 37 games in 2013-14.

"Absolutely. We should be," Smith said. "We should have been one last year. This year, definitely."

Helping the youth: Through his youth foundation, Smith hopes to help young athletes in and around New Jersey. One of the goals of the foundation is to expose young athletes to golf. Smith is an avid golfer and hopes to show young athletes around his hometown of Lakewood, New Jersey, the benefits of the sport.

"My goal is just to help kids who have certain talents who don't really have a chance to be seen. There are people that can put them in positions they want to be. I just want to help make the extra push to the youth," Smith said. "Especially in this area, we've got a lot of young talent that gets lost in the numbers.

"I just want to show kids a different side of sports. So many people play basketball, baseball, football. Once they get around [golf], they'll realize it's fun. I just want to open the door to show them they have options."

Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston and ex-Knick John Starks also attended Smith's fundraiser on Thursday.

Question: Do you think J.R. Smith should take on a leadership role for the Knicks this season?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.
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J.R. Smith

Knicks expect 'focused' J.R.; do you?

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
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SmithAP Photo/David ZalubowskiJ.R. Smith can be fantastic -- and frustrating. Do you think he's worth the headache?
We’re not breaking any news when we tell you that, to many NBA observers, J.R. Smith is a talented but erratic scorer whose behavior can leave coaches, GMs and team presidents pulling their hair out.

Viewed in that context, Smith's 2013-14 season with the Knicks may have been his defining campaign.

It began with an offseason knee surgery that was timed, by Smith's own admission, to allow him to capitalize on his free agency.

It continued with a five-game suspension for a violation of the NBA's banned substance policy.

After a slow start on the court due in part to the knee surgery, Smith made headlines in November for appearing to threaten Brandon Jennings on Twitter after Jennings insulted Smith's younger brother, Chris Smith. He was fined $25,000 for the tweet. Then, in late December, Smith angered the Knicks by publicly questioning the team's decision to cut his brother.

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As if that wasn't enough, Smith was fined $50,000 by the NBA for attempting to untie his opponents' shoelaces in early January.

At the time of the fine, Smith was shooting just 34.8 percent from the field and scoring 11.3 points per game -- nearly seven points fewer than the previous season.

But a funny thing happened on the way to what looked to be a disastrous year for the 2012-13 Sixth Man Award winner.

Smith's surgically-repaired knee started to feel normal again, and his shots started falling. In the final 43 games of the season (after Smith's second shoelace-related benching) he averaged 16.7 points per game on 45 percent shooting and knocked down 42 percent of his 3-point attempts; in the 31 games prior, Smith hit just 34 percent of his 3s.

Need more evidence to support his second-half revival?

Smith’s effective field goal percentage jumped nearly 11 percent over his final 43 games. (Effective field goal percentage is a shooting metric that adjusts for the value of 3-point shots.)

Smith was even more valuable later in the season for the Knicks. After being inserted into the starting lineup for the final 22 games, Smith averaged 18.1 points per game as the Knicks finished the season 16-6.

To Knicks general manager Steve Mills, Smith’s success in the second half of the season can be attributed to more than just an improved jump shot.

"I think we saw in the last month and a half of the season that J.R. was much more locked in as a player," Mills said earlier this month on the MSG Network. "I think when you walked in the locker room you could see ... that he was focused in a way that he wasn't at the beginning of the season."

The big question now for the Knicks and president Phil Jackson is this: Which Smith will show up for the 2014-15 season?

Will it be the player who caused headaches with his shot selection and impulse control in the first half of the season? Or the otherworldly scorer who gave opponents fits in the second half of the year? Or (the most likely option) a combination of both?


Says Mills, "We have all the confidence in the world that [Smith] will come back and be focused and locked in the way he was at the tail end of the season."

Smith’s success this season will depend, in part, on how well he can fit into the triangle offense. Smith has been accused of over dribbling in the past, which is a no-no in the triangle. But as long as he can curtail that, there's reason to believe Smith can thrive as a jump shooter in the triangle.

The 28-year-old hit 45 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts last season, including 46.2 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s last season, per SportVU. That 3-point percentage was the sixth highest among players who attempted at least 1.5 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers per game, according to the stats site.

That kind of efficiency would fit well in the triangle offense which, when run properly, produces ample open jump shots.

But will Smith get the opportunity to show what he can do in the triangle? The New Jersey product referred to last season as the "worst" of his career in an interview on ESPN's "First Take." He also said he wouldn't have been surprised if he was traded last season.

According to a league source, the Knicks have had discussions recently about making a move at shooting guard by trading Iman Shumpert or Smith to clear up the logjam at the position.

Smith, though, is set to make $5.9 million this season and has a $6.4 million player option for 2015-16. Those financial commitments to Smith, in addition to a resume filled with inconsistent play, would appear to diminish the shooting guard's value on the open market.

So if he ends up in a Knicks uniform on opening night, the team can only hope to have the version of Smith that suited up in the second half of last season: focused, productive and professional.

"I believe that Derek [Fisher] will be able to communicate with him and get him focused on what he can do to make our team better," Mills said of Smith.

The GM added that he thinks Smith can "buy into the philosophy that we have and make himself a better player."

Question: Do you agree with Mills? Can Smith help the Knicks win this season? Or should they look to trade him?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Source: Knicks open to dealing J.R., Shump

July, 20, 2014
Jul 20
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Iman Shumpert, JR Smith, Shane LarkinGetty ImagesThe Knicks are willing to trade Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Shane Larkin. But who should go?
Working to clear the logjam in the backcourt, the Knicks are discussing their potential trade options with guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin, a league source said Sunday.

“They’re working on trying to make a move in the backcourt,” the NBA source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking said Sunday.

The idea that the Knicks are trying to make a trade to balance the roster isn’t earth-shattering. President Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills have mentioned the Knicks have a surplus in the backcourt, with Mills saying last week the Knicks are “heavy” at shooting guard.

The issue for the Knicks, of course, is deciding whom to send out in a trade and figuring out what they can get in return in such a transaction.

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Which guard can the Knicks not afford to lose?

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Tim Hardaway Jr. has been deemed virtually untouchable, per a source.

Smith, the 2012-13 Sixth Man Award winner, has a player option in his contract for $6.4 million for the 2015-16 season and is coming off what he called the worst season of his NBA career. As such, it is unclear how much interest he could draw on the open market.

Shumpert is viewed as a strong defender but couldn’t find his comfort zone on offense last season. He was made available in several trade proposals throughout the season. His value at this point in the trade market is also unclear.

Larkin was recently acquired from the Mavericks in the trade that also netted Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert.

The Knicks tried to include Shumpert in deals earlier in the offseason in an effort to unload the contracts of Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million) and Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million). No deal materialized for either player. It is unclear if such packages are still being discussed or if the guards are being offered individually at this point.

The Knicks have four shooting guards on the roster. They also haven’t ruled out re-signing free-agent PG/SG Toure' Murry. He has drawn interest from the Utah Jazz and Miami Heat, according to a report Sunday from the Salt Lake Tribune.

Question: If you were Phil Jackson or Steve Mills, would you trade one of the Knicks' guards? If so, who and why?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R. 'wouldn't blame' Phil for trading him

July, 16, 2014
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J.R. Smith is confident the Knicks can win the Eastern Conference this season, but is he confident he'll be a part of the team?

Smith appeared on ESPN2’s "First Take" on Wednesday, talked about the Knicks’ glut at shooting guard and said he "wouldn’t blame" team president Phil Jackson and the Knicks if the team had decided to trade him last season.

"No. Absolutely not. The way I was playing, I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there," Smith said. "Not looking as focused as a person should be in that situation that we were, in the trenches. I wouldn’t blame them at all."

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If the Knicks deal one of their three shooting guards, who should they move?

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Of course, the Knicks didn’t deal Smith by last season’s trade deadline, but the Knicks this season are a bit overstocked at shooting guard with Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert on the roster.

Hardaway Jr. and Shumpert were mentioned in recent trade discussions between the Knicks and other teams that were centered around Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, according to sources.

Smith said on Wednesday that he’s "cognizant" one of the shooting guards on the roster could be traded before the start of the season.

"Yeah, because that’s just the way the numbers work, honestly," he said. "When you have so many people at that same position and you’re trying to juggle between 'Well, he’s got to play 20 minutes, he’s got to play 30 minutes, he’s got to play 25 minutes,' it’s tough to do. That’s why whenever I’m in the gym I try to do the best. [I’m] not worried about those guys [the other shooting guards], but [I want] to make sure I’m evolving my game so I can play multiple positions and keep my talent on the floor."

Smith also touched on several other subjects on "First Take."

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith
AP Photo/Jason DeCrowJ.R. Smith's sixth man hangover was a headache for the Knicks in 2013-14.
On how strongly he believes the Knicks, coming off a 37-win season, will win the Eastern Conference:

"Extremely. I’m confident. I don’t play to lose."

On what went wrong last season:

"For one, it was unacceptable the whole year. I’m not going to make any excuses for myself. Coming back from knee surgery is a tough thing to come back from. I didn’t expect to be at that top tier, where I was. We had a lot of confusion going on [regarding] what we were going to do as far as schemes and stuff like that. And some people didn’t agree with it. … And it just caused confusion, and, before you know it, some people were doing what they want to do and other people were doing what they want to do and there was just a lot of confusion. We just didn’t agree. We agreed to disagree a lot of the times.

"And everybody knows in order for five guys to be on the same page, like the Spurs were … everybody has to be on the same page, and we weren’t."

On whether focus was an issue for him:

"I put so much pressure on myself to come back, especially after [the] suspension and being hurt, to be back [to] where I was the year before, winning the sixth man [award]. But after that I put so much pressure on myself … [I tried] to try to take some of the pressure off and just have fun with the game. That’s where the shoe incident came into play and just [wanted to] try to ease the tension a little bit and it wasn’t working. None of the things that I had going on in my mind was working. And, unfortunately, it just so happened, I believe, to be the worst year I’ve had in the NBA, including my rookie year. So I’m just looking to bounce back."

On playing for Derek Fisher:

"I love Derek. I’ve known Derek since my rookie year when I played out in Long Beach. It seems like so long ago. Ever since the first day I met him to now, he’s been the same person. He’s probably one of the most consistent, professional people I’ve ever met in this business, and I can’t wait to play for him."

Question: If the Knicks deal one of their three shooting guards, who should they move?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Which guard is on the trading block?

June, 29, 2014
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The New York Knicks have nine guards on the roster. Phil Jackson knows that needs to change.

"We obviously have to balance that out as the summer goes along," Jackson said Thursday. "... So we’ll work on that, we’ll get that straightened out."

Translation: don't be surprised if Jackson swings another trade or two before training camp or the start of the regular season.

Jackson said on Thursday that he's been getting calls "about a couple of players" in recent days. He declined to name which players teams have been calling about.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported last week that the Knicks were dangling Iman Shumpert in trade talks with the hope of getting a first round pick in the 2014 Draft. That never came to fruition, of course.

There were also reports that New York was looking to trade guard Shane Larkin to obtain a first-round pick. Instead, they held onto their second-round picks and selected Thanasis Antetokounempo and Cleanthony Early.

Rules stipulate that The Knicks can trade any player obtained in their trade last week with Dallas at any point. But if they want to package one of the players in a deal with another Knick to combine salaries, they will have to wait 60 days from the trade to do so.

So Jackson has plenty of options to work with on the trade market.

Below, we take a brief look at the potential implications of moving some of the players on the Knicks roster:

Shumpert: He struggled to find consistency on offense last season but some believe the tall guard and talented defender can succeed in Jackson's triangle offense. He has the length and speed to help the Knicks defend the perimeter and his value may be even higher in light of the Knicks' acquisition of Jose Calderon in last week's trade. Calderon is a sub-par defender and Shumpert can help compensate and cover for the veteran PG.

Larkin: He's one of four point guards on the Knicks' roster (potential free agent Tour'e Murry, Pablo Prigioni and Jose Calderon are the others) so a move needs to be made at that position. The second-year player struggled to find his footing after an ankle injury derailed him earlier in his rookie season. Shouldn't the Knicks give him a chance to show why he was selected n the first round last season?

J.R. Smith: Smith is one of five shooting guards on the Knicks roster (including free agent Shannon Brown), so this is another position Jackson could look to tinker with before the start of the season. Some wonder how Smith will fare in Phil's offense, but the feeling here is that the Knicks should see how Jackson's presence can impact the former Sixth Man Award winner. Smith shot the ball extremely well from behind the arc late last season. His outside shooting could be a huge plus for New York next season. Plus, Smith has two seasons left on his deal, making him hard to move.

Question: Do you think the Knicks should deal Shumpert? Larkin? J.R. Smith? Someone else?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R. on Woody: 'He did a good job with me'

April, 21, 2014
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J.R. Smith knew this day was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier to digest.

"It is sad,” Smith told ESPN’s Josina Anderson when asked about Mike Woodson’s firing. “He was great to me. I think I got a fair shake for the first time in awhile under him. He treated me how he wanted to be treated. It sucks, but there is nothing I can do about it.

"I think he did a great job," Smith added. "I think he did a good job with me. He responded to the players. It's just a sad day for him, for me and my teammates."

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith and Mike Woodson
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJ.R. Smith says Mike Woodson gave him a fair shake with the Knicks.
Smith and Woodson butted heads at times over the past 2 ½ seasons. But by and large, the shooting guard thrived under Woodson. He won the sixth man award last season and excelled in the starting lineup over the last six weeks of this year.

Smith told Anderson on Monday morning that he had hoped to see Woodson back next season. Woodson is under contract for 2014-15. But Smith added that he supported team president Phil Jackson's desire to clean house.

“I don't know what is fair or not. I'm not the person dealing with fair or not. It would've been nice to see him get another year at least, but Phil Jackson has won a lot of championships and knows basketball, so we have to trust in that," Smith said.

Jackson said in a statement Monday that his search for a new coach would begin immediately. Steve Kerr is the leading candidate to replace Woodson.

Smith told Anderson that it will be “interesting” to see what Kerr, who has never coached before, brings to the bench.

“I don't know Steve that well. I have seen him in the airport a few times. I did some interviews with him. He seems like a cool guy. It would be interesting to see what he's got," Smith said.

Smith is under contract for the next two seasons, with a player option for 2015-16. So the next coach’s relationship with Smith will be worth watching. He’s said several times that Woodson has reached him in a way that no coach in the past has.

Will Smith be able to say the same of Kerr, or whoever is hired to coach the Knicks in 2014-15?

If Smith doesn’t respond well to the next head coach, could that lead to Jackson looking to trade the shooting guard?

Those are all hypothetical questions to ponder in the coming days and weeks.

Monday morning, though, was a time for Smith to mourn the firing of a man he said was one of the best to coach him.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R. weighs in on Melo: He’ll still be here

April, 16, 2014
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NEW YORK -- J.R. Smith is one of Carmelo Anthony's closest friends in the NBA.

The two have played together for seven seasons.

So when Smith says something about Anthony, it's worth listening.

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJ.R. Smith doesn't believe his close pal Carmelo Anthony has played his last game for the Knicks.
Here's what the New York Knicks shooting guard had to say about Anthony's pending free agency:

"In my heart, I believe he’ll still be here. It’s just a matter of him coming up with that decision. Whatever it is, we’re still going to be friends 'til our dying days, so I mean, whether he’s on my team or he isn’t, I still love him like a brother."

Asked if he was "worried" that he'd played his last game with Anthony, Smith replied, "No, not really."

Wonder if Phil Jackson is as confident as J.R.?

Anthony will sit out the season finale against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday due to a small tear in his left labrum. So the next step for Anthony, aside from rehabbing his shoulder injury, is to turn his attention to free agency.

The 30-year-old should have a number of suitors on the open market. The Knicks can re-sign him to a five-year contract worth $129,135,806. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can get is $95,897,372 over four years.

The Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are among a group of teams expected to pursue him during the offseason.

Anthony has said that this season won't have a major bearing on his decision -- and that's probably a good thing for the Knicks.

New York is at the tail end of a miserable season. Picked by many to finish among the top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks instead will miss the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Smith is as surprised as anyone about the team's downfall.

"I mean, going into this season I was thinking a championship, a championship-caliber team," Smith said. "We’ve got the right pieces, hungry people, we’ve got young kids, vets, people who’ve been there before, so it's very sour."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woody to J.R.: Shoot more free throws!

April, 9, 2014
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When he looks at J.R. Smith’s stat sheet from Sunday, Mike Woodson isn’t bothered by the 22 3-point shot attempts. He’s upset by the lack of free-throws.

“You can’t go 30-plus minutes and not shoot a free throw. Good scorers in this league, they’ve got to mix their game up. I’ve got to get him where he’s shooting 5-7 free throws,” Woodson said. “There’s no reason why he shouldn’t because he’s athletic enough. And I know he can put the ball down to the floor and get to the rim.”

Smith impressed some folks and annoyed some others by attempting an NBA record 22 threes in the Knicks’ loss to Miami on Sunday. He shot 10 alone in the fourth quarter, making five. Woodson on Monday praised Smith for keeping the Knicks in the game but added that he’d like to see him be more than one dimensional.

“I want J.R. to be a complete player,” the coach said.

Woodson was asked later on ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s “The Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show” if things would be different for the Knicks if Smith had been scoring like this throughout the season.

“Those are the unknowns, the what-ifs. It Tyson [Chandler] doesn’t go down three games into the regular season. There’s just been a number of things,” Woodson said. “I could have been better as a coach. You can point the finger there as well. As a coach, I take pride in what I do and I’ll never pass the buck on anybody. This season has been tough on a lot of people and I take full responsibility for that. At the end of the day we’ve got four games left and we’ve still got a shot [for a playoff berth].”

No progress for Bargnani and K-Mart:
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) and Kenyon Martin (ankle) have not been cleared for contact. It seems like neither will play again during the regular season.

Martin, out since Feb. 3 with an ankle injury, said last week that he was getting closer to a return but didn’t provide any specific details. Bargnani has been out since Jan. 24 with a torn ligament in his left elbow.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

STAT: Knicks shot too many 3s vs. Miami

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
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It doesn’t sound as if Amar'e Stoudemire was all that happy to see J.R. Smith set the NBA single-game record for 3-point attempts Sunday.

“We had a chance to win the game,” Stoudemire said after the Knicks’ 11-point loss to the Heat. “They went small and we shot 3s.”

He added: “We didn’t take advantage of our size.”

Stoudemire didn’t call Smith out by name, but it’s fair to assume Stoudemire wasn’t pleased with the shooting guard’s 22 3-point attempts.

The Knicks took 42 3s in total, their fifth-highest 3-point total in the past 26 seasons. According to Stoudemire, that 3-happy approach led to a failure to capitalize on a size advantage inside.

“There were possessions in which Shane Battier guarded me for a good seven minutes. They got away with it,” Stoudemire, who is listed at 6-11, said, referencing the 6-8 Battier. “... Opportunities like that, you’ve got to take advantage of it.

“We got to make guys play defense out there. Especially when they are undersized and guarding guys like myself and Tyson Chandler.”

Smith hit a Knicks-record 10 3-pointers and, one could argue, kept New York in the game for long stretches.

But he had more makes from beyond the arc than Stoudemire had shot attempts.

Stoudemire finished 5-for-9 with 12 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes against Miami.

The Heat outscored the Knicks in the paint 36-28. Both teams attempted 23 shots in the paint, so it's not as if the Knicks totally ignored the real estate around the basket.

But the numbers from the third quarter seem to support Stoudemire’s theory.

New York went 1-for-11 from beyond the arc in the third and was outscored 25-14. Miami was able to take control in that stanza and keep the Knicks from closing the gap in the fourth.

When told about Smith's record, Stoudemire said, "It's an NBA record? I had no idea ... if a shot's open, then take it. If a team goes small, then we have to take advantage of that."

Sunday's loss dropped the Knicks two games behind the Hawks in the race for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

New York has four games left on the schedule. Atlanta has six games remaining. Any combination of three Hawks wins and/or Knicks losses will clinch the playoff spot for the Hawks.

ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh contributed to this report.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R. Smith: We can benefit from Phil

March, 11, 2014
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J.R. Smith said he hasn’t been following the reports linking Phil Jackson to the Knicks too closely.

“I’ve been watching the Golf Channel,” Smith said. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff.”

But Smith does think Jackson’s presence can benefit the Knicks. The Hall of Fame coach is currently mulling an offer to join the team as president of basketball operations.

“If he is, great. If he isn’t, then that’s fine, too. He’s won [13] championships. Any wisdom that he has will benefit us,” Smith said.

All indications are that Jackson will accept the Knicks’ offer to join the club's front office, a league source told ESPN’s Chris Broussard.

[+] EnlargeJR Smith
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJ.R. Smith finished Monday's Knicks win with 22 points.
Jackson's answer is expected to become official within the next day or so, a source told Broussard. The Knicks have not scheduled an announcement.

Knicks assistant general manager Allan Houston didn’t want to address the possibility of Jackson taking over as team president. But he did say that he “respected” the Hall of Famer.

“Everyone has respect for one of the greatest coaches to play,” Houston said at an event to announce the Knicks’ new D-League team in Westchester. “I’ve played for some wonderful coaches. And I’ve learned a lot from every one of them.

“I've played and worked with a lot of great people -- personnel and coaches,” Houston added. “I'm a sponge, so everybody I've worked with I'm going to learn from.”

If that happens, it creates an uncertain future for Houston, general manager Steve Mills and others in the Knicks’ front office.

Bargnani unsure of return: Andrea Bargnani says he has no timetable for his return and is unsure if he will be back this season. Bargnani suffered an elbow injury on Jan. 24. Kenyon Martin (ankle) hasn't resumed basketball activities. He has been out since Feb. 3 with a sore left ankle.

Name that team: The NBA Development League has added a team in the New York suburb of White Plains that will be owned and operated by the Knicks.

Houston will serve as GM of the team.

The former star shooting guard said having the team play and train at the County Center in White Plains will help with player development.

The team will be minutes away from the Knicks’ training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y.

“We have a lot of connection to the Westchester community from training here,” Houston said. “A lot of our staff and players are part of this community. We've always been connected. The proximity from our training facility to here will allow us to be much more effective in developing players, providing a support system for them. [It will] provide a resource and [help with] skill development and [allow us to] make sure we're doing everything in our capability to help players get better and grow and give Westchester something to be excited about.”

Melo wins Player of the Week: Carmelo Anthony was named Player of the Week for the Eastern Conference, the NBA announced.

Anthony led the Knicks to a 3-1 week behind averages of 29.0 points (third in the conference), 5.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.75 steals (fifth in the conference). Anthony also averaged the fourth-most minutes in the East, at 38.7 mpg.

Knicks ink Brown, Clark: The Knicks signed Earl Clark and Shannon Brown to 10-day contracts. Both Brown and Clark played on 10-day deals with the Knicks. At the end of this 10-day contract, the Knicks will have to decide if they want to sign the players for the remainder of the season.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Rapid Reaction: Knicks 123, Sixers 110

March, 10, 2014
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NEW YORK -- No one is certain whether Phil Jackson is coming to New York or not. But all the Jackson talk doesn’t seem to be distracting the Knicks.

Mike Woodson’s club continued its climb up the Eastern Conference standings Monday with a win over the 76ers.

The victory -- New York’s fourth straight -- moved the Knicks into sole possession of ninth place in the conference, percentage points ahead of the Pistons.

The Hawks beat the Jazz later Monday so the Knicks' deficit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference remained at 3 1/2 games.

New York had four players score at least 20 points against Philly.

Tim Hardaway Jr. led the team with 28 points. Amar'e Stoudemire had 23. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith added 22 apiece. The last time the Knicks had four players score at least 20 points was April 17, 2012.

New York struggled early against a Sixers team that has lost 17 in a row, trailing by 12 in the first quarter.

But Carmelo & Co. bounced back in the second to tie the score at 61 by halftime and reeled off a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter. The Knicks are looking to become just the third team since 1984 to make the playoffs after facing a deficit of at least five games with fewer than 25 games to play.

Amar’e revival: One of the keys to this Knicks win streak has been Stoudemire's play.

The veteran power forward has been incredibly efficient since being inserted into the starting lineup five games ago. What Stoudemire did Monday only supported that theory. He had 23 points on 9-for-10 shooting to go along with six rebounds. Stoudemire also played 30 minutes, no small feat for a player who was on a minutes limit earlier this season.

Tim’s time: Hardaway continued to show that he had no business being selected with the 24th pick in the 2013 NBA draft. The rookie poured in 28 points on 9-for-13 shooting, including five of six 3s.

Potent offense: The Knicks shot 54 percent from the field and hit 40 percent from 3. Four players had at least three assists. New York forced Philly into 18 turnovers and scored 28 points off those turnovers.

What’s next: The Knicks will play the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R.: Woody hasn't been treated fairly

March, 8, 2014
Mar 8
12:32
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NEW YORK -- All the talk about coach Mike Woodson's job security hasn't sat well with J.R. Smith.

And the most recent development -- the Knicks' pursuit of Phil Jackson -- doesn't sit well with Smith, either, because of its effect on Woodson.

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith, Marvin Williams
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesJ.R. Smith scored 17 points against the Jazz, including five 3-pointers.
"I don't think it's been fair the way he's been treated all year," Smith said Friday, following the Knicks' 108-81 win over the Utah Jazz. "I think he's done a great job since he's taken over the head [coaching] job, and if we're having a bad year, I don't think he should take the blame for all of that. I think some of the players should take the blame for that. And we should move on as a unit as opposed to singling people out."

Woodson's job security has been in question all season due to the Knicks' struggles. On Friday, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported that Knicks president Steve Mills met with Phil Jackson and talked to him about coaching the team.

ESPNNewYork.com later confirmed the Knicks also discussed a potential front-office position with Jackson. The front-office offer was first reported by the New York Daily News.

It made for an awkward day at Madison Square Garden because Woodson remains under contract. He is expected to be fired at the end of this season but is under contract through the 2014-15 season.

"I really don't have an opinion on it," Woodson said before Friday's game, when asked about the Jackson reports. "I really don't. Again, as I sit here today, I am the coach of the New York Knicks. I am not going to entertain anything about Phil.

"I have a great deal of respect for Phil, but I am not going to entertain anything about Phil Jackson. My job is to try to get this team to play at a high level and we got a big game tonight against Utah, and we got to get ready to play."

After the Knicks' win Friday, Carmelo Anthony said he was aware of the reports about Jackson but was not privy to the organization's pursuit of the legendary coach.

"Of course, you hear it," he said. "I heard it when I came in today. In the training room, that's all that's on ESPN, so you see the stuff. But as far as me, personally, I haven't heard anything of that nature, so it's hard for me to speak on something I don't know about."

High-five: The Knicks' new starting five had another strong night Friday. The unit of Smith, Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler combined to score 73 of the Knicks' 108 points.

The unit also helped New York build a 17-point, first-quarter lead.

"We got a lot of weapons in that starting lineup," Smith said.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Opening Tip: Should J.R. be fined?

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
6:00
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J.R. Smith was at it again on Monday night, tugging at Vince Carter’s headband in the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ loss to the Mavericks.

Carter seemed to smile after the incident, which appeared to be good-natured. But the NBA may not have the same reaction.

Smith, you may remember, was fined $50,000 by the league in early January for attempting to untie two of his opponents' shoelaces. He was later benched for one game by Knicks coach Mike Woodson for his shoelace antics.

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Should the NBA fine J.R. Smith for his headband stunt in Monday's Knicks loss?

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Discuss (Total votes: 2,710)

After Monday’s game -- a 110-108 Dallas win -- Smith denied that he tugged on Carter's headband.

"No, your eyes were playing tricks on you," he said with a laugh, repeating the refrain a questioner used. "You're reaching for that one. I [already] got fined once for that [s---]."

If the NBA fines Smith, do you think it will be an overreaction? It didn’t seem like a malicious act, but given the context, the NBA may feel that it needs to take action.

Up now: After another dispiriting home loss, Mike Woodson said it’s a “damn shame” that the Knicks have performed poorly amid a great season by Carmelo Anthony.

Metta World Peace said in a phone interview with ESPNNewYork.com that he didn’t think he was given a fair chance with the Knicks.

The Knicks lost for the ninth time in 11 games thanks to a buzzer-beater from Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki.

What’s next: The Knicks will take the day off Tuesday to prepare for Thursday’s game at Miami.

Question: Do you think J.R. Smith should be fined or would that be an overreaction?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R. Smith out due to ill-fitting mask

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
9:37
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J.R. Smith was forced to sit out of Wednesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings because of an ill-fitting protective face-mask.

Smith was expected to play against Sacramento after suffering a fractured bone in his left cheek on Sunday. He was being fitted for a mask on Tuesday but when he received the mask on Wednesday he said it didn’t fit properly.

“It’s just a little uncomfortable,” Smith said. “Gotta get it a little more fitted to my face, and just go from there.”

Smith said he didn’t want to risk playing without the mask because doctors informed him that he could suffer blindness in his left eye if hit there again.

“I’ll wait it out and hopefully it heals more within the next week we got, and I’ll get more comfortable wearing the mask,” Smith said.

Smith expects to return to the court after the All Star break when the Knicks play at Memphis on Tuesday.

He says he may have to wear the mask for 4-5 weeks.

The reigning Sixth Man award winner has been an integral part of the Knicks’ offense of late.

Smith had an off game against Oklahoma City (3-for-10, six points). But in the 11 games prior, he had averaged 18.2 points on 46 percent shooting.

Hardaway, Smith expected back vs. Kings

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
9:04
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Two of the Knicks' three shooting guards are banged up, but both are expected to play Wednesday against Sacramento.

Tim Hardaway Jr. appeared to injure his left leg during Tuesday's practice. He walked off in the middle of practice and watched from the sideline. He had a wrap on his leg.

But coach Mike Woodson said in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show" that he expects Hardaway to play.

"I think he's going to be OK. I don't know the severity of it. But he'll play [Wednesday]. Timmy's a tough kid; he'll be just fine," Woodson said.

Also, J.R. Smith suffered a small fracture in his left cheekbone Sunday afternoon against Oklahoma City after his face hit Kevin Durant's knee in the fourth quarter, the Knicks announced. He will wear a protective face mask and is expected to play Wednesday.

"He won’t miss a game; that’s good," Woodson said. "We’re just hoping he can play well with the mask he wears.”

[+] EnlargeJR Smith
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiJ.R. Smith, left, will wear a protective mask Wednesday, three days after suffering a cheekbone fracture.
(You think anyone is going to try to unstrap the back of J.R.'s face mask?)

Both Smith and Hardaway had a tough time shooting against Oklahoma City, but they've provided scoring for the Knicks' offense since Andrea Bargnani went down.

Smith went 3-for-10 and scored seven points against the Thunder. He had averaged 18.2 points on 46 percent shooting in the previous 11 games.

Hardaway had five points on 2-for-6 shooting against OKC. In seven games prior, he averaged 15.6 points on 48 percent shooting.

Woody says Durant is MVP: Woodson put on his NBA analyst hat Tuesday when asked by Stephen A. Smith and Ruocco about the MVP race. He said Kevin Durant is his MVP "right now." Most league observers would agree with him. Durant put up 41 points Sunday against the Knicks. He has more 40-point games in his past 13 outings (four) than anyone else in the NBA. He's also averaging a career-high 5.5 assists and 7.6 rebounds per game.

"His game has changed a little bit from last year in that he's handled the ball a little bit more, and a lot of that probably has to do with [Russell] Westbrook not being in uniform," Woodson said. "They're playing him with the ball in his hand in the middle of the floor a lot. And that, to me, is the toughest spot on the floor when you've got an offensive guy with the ball that can make plays. That's a helluva threat, man."

Melo remains "positive": The Knicks' 20-31 record hasn't dampened Carmelo Anthony's mood. Melo insisted Tuesday that he's maintaining a positive outlook.

"Without a doubt," Anthony said. "My head is always up. I always remain confident and remain positive. And I’ve got to do that for my teammates and make sure they see that, and hopefully they can feed off that."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2