That was the last straw. The only thing J.R. Smith’s lack of focus at the end of tonight’s Knicks-Rockets showdown in Houston should earn him is a seat at the end of the bench. After shooting 3-12 and 1-7 from three, Smith inexplicably jacked up a three pointer and bricked it with 20 or so seconds left, immediately after Tyson Chandler secured a clutch rebound. Oh and by the way, not only was there no defender within five feet of him, but the shot clock was off. I’d say that I’m surprised, but head-scratching decisions by J.R. Smith are the norm not the exception.
Sure, Andrea Bargnani did something similar in Milwaukee earlier in the season, but in that game the Knicks had the lead at the time of the blunder and ended up surviving unscathed. J.R.’s gaffe is different and must be viewed as such because it is symptomatic of a deeper problem: J.R. is having a terrible season, the worst of his career in fact, and no longer deserves to log 32 minutes a night.
The NBA’s most recent Sixth Man of the Year is playing like the twelfth man, if that. Smith’s game is his offense, everyone in the world knows this–especially him. When the offense isn’t working there’s no reason for him to be out on the court. He’s shooting an atrocious 35% from the field this season. With Tim Hardaway Jr. atop the rookie leaders in shooting, Toure Murry providing much needed energy, and Iman Shumpert beginning to look like himself again–and then some–there’s even less of a reason for him to be out there.
Still have a sore knee, J.R.? Yet another reason not to be out there. Rest up, I’m sure the Knickerbockers will figure out a way to replace you.
Tonight’s egregious error only confirms that the longer Mike Woodson lets J.R. fight through his struggles on the court the longer the Knicks will suffer as a team. Other than taking up space on the floor, blocking younger players from the rotation, providing tabloid fodder with his Twitter activity, and exhibiting poor basketball I.Q. Smith isn’t doing much right now. Notice how none of those things are positives.
If J.R. logs about as many minutes as his brother Chris from here on out the Knicks will be better off. One Smith down, one to go.