Sunday, August 5, 2012
J.R.: NYK has talent to win title
By Ian Begley
The way things are set up, the Knicks have a three-year window to compete for a title with their current group.
J.R. Smith, for one, believes they can get it done -- possibly as soon as this season.
In an interview with ESPNNewYork.com this weekend, Smith said he thinks that the Knicks, on paper, have the talent to win a championship, something the franchise hasn't done in 40 years.
"Right now with the talent we have, what it says on paper is championship all day. But it's a matter of us going out there and doing it," Smith said after appearing at an event in Harlem at Nike's House of Hoops to promote/give away some Nike sneakers to children.
Smith says he goes into every season with a "championship or bust" mentality.
But that's particularly true this season.
Smith believes the moves the Knicks made in the offseason give them enough talent to "compete with anybody."
"It's just a matter of us being smart with our talents and making the right plays," Smith said.
The Knicks added Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton and Ronnie Brewer Jr. this summer. They also re-signed Steve Novak and Smith and let Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields walk.
Whether that's enough to compete with the likes of Miami and Boston in the Eastern Conference is very much open for debate.
New York lost to the Heat, 4-1, in the first round of last year's playoffs. Smith says that Knicks team had enough talent to compete with the Heat but "injuries and mental breakdowns" kept them from doing so.
He thinks things will be different this year.
"I never go out there for anything less than a championship. So first round, second round, third, semis, that's not good enough until we bring that gold ball back," Smith said. "It's my ninth year, (Carmelo Anthony's) 10th year, we're not getting no younger so we've got to start getting some Ws."
BROTHERLY LOVE: Smith called the Knicks' signing of his younger brother, Chris Smith, a "dream come true."
"That's something we've always dreamed and talked about ever since we were little," Smith said. "For it to actually pan out that way is great."
The Knicks reportedly signed Chris to a two-year, non-guaranteed deal. He will get a shot to make the team in training camp. The Knicks could send him to their D-League affiliate if things don't work out.
J.R. said his brother brings value to the Knicks' roster, which is slightly thin at shooting guard due to Iman Shumpert's ACL injury.
"He plays defense like Shump," Smith said of Chris. " ... It really helps our roster because Shump's going to be out until January or February and we need that third or fourth wing coming off the bench to do the dirty work. It kind of works out perfectly for us. It's not a big-time salary so that's even better."
Smith was asked about the notion that the Knicks brought his brother on the roster as a favor to him. He dismissed that. Instead, he jokingly expressed relief that he didn't have to support Chris financially anymore.
"I paid for my brother to go to school for the last five years (at Louisville). Now, he's off my books and on somebody else's, so I'm happy," he said with a laugh.
GIVING BACK: Smith has done extensive work with his foundation recently. He said his ultimate goal for the foundation, which is in his name, is to establish local youth leagues in a variety of sports to provide outlets for children who may not otherwise have them ... Smith's House of Hoops event drew nearly 200 children to the store. Fans were also lined up outside to see Smith.
"Whenever you get a turnout like that (and) the kids are smiling, it's great," Smith said. ". ... It's great for basketball, it's great for culture, its great for the youth."