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Thursday, January 9, 2014
Updated: January 10, 12:53 PM ET
J.R. Smith: Not told I wouldn't play

By Ian Begley
ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- In the past two days, J.R. Smith has been benched by the New York Knicks and fined by the NBA.

Suddenly, he is unsure of his future in New York.

"Honestly, I don't even know at this point. At one point I was for sure, and now it's rocking the boat," Smith said after he was benched for the Knicks' 102-92 win against the Miami Heat on Thursday night. "But it is what it is. It's the nature of the business."

The benching came one day after Smith was fined $50,000 by the league for "recurring instances of unsportsmanlike conduct" stemming from his recent shoelace antics.

Coach Mike Woodson wouldn't comment on why he benched Smith against the Heat. Smith said he arrived at Madison Square Garden expecting to play and never was told by Woodson that he wouldn't.

"I think that's the most misleading part of it," Smith said. "I could see if I was told, but there was no conversation about it. But it is what it is. We got the [win]."

Smith also said he thought the $50,000 fine was exorbitant.

"In my eyes, yeah," he said. "The first time it was done, everybody thought it was hilarious. The second time it was done, it wasn't really done. But at the end of the day, it is what it is. I'm not going to fight it.

"If we play hard and we win, I'm happy. If we play hard and lose, I'd have something to say. As long as we keep winning, I'm fine."

J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith watched the Knicks' victory against the Heat from the bench Thursday night.

Smith untied Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion's shoelaces during the second quarter of the Knicks' 92-80 win Sunday. He was warned by the league to "refrain from further conduct of this nature" before the Knicks' following game Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons. Smith then seemed to attempt to untie the shoes of Pistons big man Greg Monroe while lined up at the free throw lane during that game.

"It was a joke but a joke gone wrong," Smith said.

Smith also intimated that the warning he received from the NBA wasn't clear.

"They warned me, but it wasn't one of those warnings where you go, 'Oh, damn,'" he said. "It was one of those warnings where you really don't know the outcome of it."

The NBA Players Association is considering an appeal of Smith's fine, acting executive director Ron Klempner said. The potential appeal was first reported by the New York Post. It is fairly common practice for the union to appeal fines.

"We're investigating right now, doing our due diligence," Klempner said in a phone interview.

Woodson said before and after the Knicks' win against the Heat that he would not address Smith's situation. But the coach was highly critical of Smith after the NBA announced its fine Wednesday.

The coach called the 28-year-old guard's conduct unacceptable in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show."

"I'm not happy about this because he was warned, he comes back, and he makes the same mistake, and it's not right," Woodson said. "It's just got to stop. I keep saying this every time something pops up, but it's got to stop."

Woodson added that Smith has been "unprofessional about how he's approached this whole thing. Something's gotta be done. It has to stop. I'll address it tomorrow when I see him, and then we'll go from there."

Smith posted an apology on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

Smith is unsure if he will play in the Knicks' next game, against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

"Honestly, I had no conversations about the situation, so I really don't know what to expect," Smith said.

His future in New York may be uncertain as well.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Knicks have become increasingly frustrated with Smith's on- and off-court transgressions and have in recent days begun exploring the potential trade market for him.

Smith can't be traded until Jan. 15 because the Knicks are over the salary cap and Smith signed for more than 120 percent of his previous salary. The Knicks, furthermore, privately acknowledge that it will be difficult in the current climate to trade Smith, who signed a three-year, $18 million contract in the offseason.

Smith is shooting just 34.8 percent from the field and has averaged 11.3 points in 29 games this season. Last season, Smith won the NBA's Sixth Man Award after averaging 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 80 games.