Dec 1, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New Orleans Pelicans point guard Tyreke Evans (1) gets ready to drive against New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. New Orleans Pelicans won 103-99. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

J.R. Smith: The Knicks' Achilles Heel

J.R. Smith is coming off his best season by far in last season’s campaign. He won the Sixth Man of the Year award, lead the New York Knicks to a No. 2 seed in the East, and deserved a contract extension and got it with a nice payday. This season, though, he has been a whole different story. Smith is getting into arguments with the head coach (for now), Mike Woodson, and is playing terribly to say the least. Last season it was not even debatable, Smith was key for the Knicks. This season, is he having a negative impact?

It all started this past offseason, which besides a nice payday was disastrous for Smith. He put off his knee surgery so he could get extra money and it slowed him down, missing most of the off season and preseason. He was also suspended for five games due to a failed drug test, believing to be tested positive for marijuana use. This is not the first time he has been suspended, and he has had his issues with drugs and alcohol in the past, but he was clean last season and the Knicks were hoping clean for good. Well, they were wrong, and the Knicks organization and Coach Woodson were very upset with him — he let down a team who gave him the opportunity to revive his career and realize untapped potential, and just gave him a nice contract proving the Knicks commitment to their overzealous second scoring option.

Fast forward to the start of this season. Smith serves his five game suspension and plays horrible in his return. He has been jacking up crazy shots, and not passing the ball when he is in sticky situations. He has been regressing back to the old J.R., who is erratic and selfish with the ball.  He’s shooting 33.3 percent from the field this season, and he has scored 182 total points on 195 shots (10.5 ppt); he also is not the best defender, so he has been hurting the Knicks much more than helping them in a time of need.

(He also has his own share of off the court problems. He got into a Twitter argument with Brandon Jennings and was fined by the league. Even worse, his relationship with his coach is not exactly the best.)

After the Knicks’ narrow victory over the Bulls at MSG last week, he had a chat with Mike Woodson according to reports. Woodson talked to him about his poor shot selection and rude comments he made on the bench during the game. The next game vs the Celtics, he only took one shot. One single shot. He refused to shoot because Woodson had some well deserved criticism towards him.

A coaches job is to motivate you and try and get you to be your best, and Woodson was doing just that. Then Smith pulls a complete childish act and hurts his team by only taking one shot in a game that was clearly winnable had it not been for Smith’s stubbornness and the Knicks poor shoot selection down the stretch. Smith is a player who is supposed to be a key factor, if not the key factor at times, in the offense’s rotation. Mike Woodson has been a huge supporter of Smith during tough times, and he does that to his head coach and biggest supporter? That’s plain selfish and juvenile behavior.

J.R. Smith is clearly crippling the Knicks right now. He is doing nothing to help at all and his horrendous selfish play has been a major factor in the Knicks’ atrocious and disappointing 7-17 start. Unless he can turn it around soon, he is the odd man out in the Knicks’ crowded back court rotation with Tim Hardaway Jr. breathing down his neck with some breakout performances as of late.

Tags: J.R. Smith NBA New York Knicks

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