Opening Tip: Why bench J.R.?

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
6:00
AM ET
J.R. SmithAP Photo/Chuck BurtonJ.R. Smith spent yet another night watching the Knicks from the bench.
Another day, another wrinkle to the J.R. Smith story.

Smith did not play in the Knicks’ loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.

And it’s unclear why.

SportsNation

J.R. Smith was benched in Charlotte without an explanation. Thoughts?

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Knicks coach Mike Woodson benched Smith in the team’s win over Miami last Thursday after Smith was fined $50,000 for attempting to untie opponents’ shoelaces. He played in the Knicks’ next two games but was benched on Tuesday.

It’s pretty strange that Woodson would bench Smith in the second game of a back-to-back. So it’s fair to speculate if something happened between the coach and player between late Monday night and Tuesday before tipoff.

Things seemed to be OK between Woodson and Smith on Monday. Smith, if you remember, took the last shot of regulation against Phoenix.

It’s worth noting here that due to a quirk in the CBA, the first day that Smith is eligible to be traded is Wednesday. Since Smith signed a contract for more than 120 percent of his salary in 2012-13, and the Knicks are over the cap, they haven’t been able to deal him until today.

So that could be a factor at play here.

Smith signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Knicks in the offseason, though he admitted last week that he is unsure of his future with the organization.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com last week that the Knicks have become increasingly frustrated with Smith's on-and-off-court transgressions and have begun exploring the potential trade market for him, though they realize it will be difficult to move him.

So that could be at play here. Or Smith could have had a run-in with Woodson. I guess we’ll find out more in the coming days.

Up now: The Knicks’ five-game winning streak was snapped in a loss to the Bobcats.

Tyson Chandler returned to the lineup for the first time in four games following a bout with bronchitis.

What’s next: The Knicks will practice on Wednesday to prepare for Thursday’s game against Indiana.

Question: What do you think is going on with J.R. Smith and Mike Woodson? Do you think the Knicks should trade J.R.?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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