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Thursday, November 28, 2013
Opening Tip: What's wrong with J.R. Smith?

By Ian Begley

Many aspects of the Knicks' awful start have been discussed and dissected already. Ball movement, poor defense and injuries have all been offered as reasons the Knicks (3-11) are struggling.

But one often overlooked factor has been the play of J.R. Smith.

New York isn't getting much from the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. He may be working off the rust from offseason knee surgery. He may still be out of rhythm following a five-game suspension to open the season. Or, in the worst-case scenario for the Knicks, Smith may still be feeling pain and discomfort in his surgically repaired knee.

Whatever the reason, it's clear Smith isn't himself right now.

On Wednesday against the Clips, Smith had seven points in 26 minutes. He missed six of his nine attempts, and the Knicks were outscored by 14 during his time on the floor. Against the Blazers on Monday, he was 2-for-8 in 25 minutes.

Smith is shooting just 32 percent from the floor this season. If he finished the season at this percentage, it would be a career low. He's also hitting just 30 percent from 3. The Knicks have been outscored by a combined 50 points with Smith on the floor.

Part of the reason management is comfortable with the idea of trading Iman Shumpert is because they believe Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. can handle the minutes at shooting guard.

But Smith hasn't proved that theory so far this season. The Knicks badly need him to find his shot before the season spirals to the point of no return.

Up now: The Knicks lost their seventh straight game for the first time in the Carmelo Anthony era.

You have to wonder if in-fighting is affecting the team.

Lastly, Chris Broussard reports that Cleveland has talked to the Knicks about a possible trade for Dion Waiters.

What's next: The Knicks will be off Thursday. They finish their four-game road trip against Denver on Friday.

Question: What's going on with J.R.?

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