- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Should Mike Woodson limit J.R. Smith's minutes?
The numbers aren't pretty for J.R. Smith.
In his four games since returning from a one-game suspension, Smith is averaging 13 points on just 26 percent shooting and has missed 18 of his 25 3-point attempts.
That's why Stephen A. Smith asked Mike Woodson Wednesday on his radio show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM if he'd consider reducing the sixth man's minutes.
Woodson, who has made a point of treating his players equally, said that anyone who isn't performing is in danger of losing playing time.
And Smith would certainly fall under that category. So there's a chance that his minutes will decrease if he continues to struggle with his shot.
But I think Woodson would be wise to let Smith shoot his way out of it.
The way Woodson's handled Smith all year has been different from other NBA coaches. And it's given Smith confidence. If you cut his minutes, you put that confidence at risk.
And the Knicks can't afford to have Smith dealing with confidence issues at the same time that he's struggling with his shot. They need him to be a secondary scoring option behind Carmelo Anthony. And if he's not scoring, he's got to, at the least, be a threat to do so, so defenses pay attention to him when he shares the floor with Melo.
So it would make sense to let Smith shoot his way out of his current slump instead of cutting his minutes.
Also, the Knicks' other options outside of Smith all have their issues.
Woodson could give more minutes to Iman Shumpert, but how will his knee react to more minutes than he's already playing (29 per game). He could turn to Jason Kidd, but Kidd has given the Knicks next to nothing on offense in the postseason. And he could go to Chris Copeland, but Copeland is limited on defense. So Smith, even while struggling, seems to be Woodson's best option.
Question: Should Mike Woodson limit J.R. Smith's minutes?
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