Jan 8, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT
In theory there should be strong trade market for the reining sixth man of the year making close to the league average salary.
But if that sixth man is J.R. Smith, good luck.
As the Knicks front office tries to change the locker room culture and figure out how to get out of the mess they are in — well over the luxury tax line with a roster that is 12-22 and one they are largely locked into next season, one Carmelo Anthony may not wish to return to — the team is exploring trading Smith, reports ESPN.
Good luck with that, by the way.
Sources close to the situation said Wednesday that the organization has become increasingly frustrated with Smith’s on- and off-court transgressions and may feel a fresh start would be best for all parties….
Due to the nature of his contract, Smith cannot be traded prior to Jan. 15. The Knicks, furthermore, privately acknowledge that it will be difficult in the current climate to trade Smith, who has two seasons left after this one on a three-year, $18 million contract.
Smith had off-season knee surgery (which he put off until he signed the new contract) and since he came back (after missing training came for the knee then the first five games of the season for testing positive for Marijuana) he is not the same player that helped carry the Knicks to 54 wins and the second round of the playoffs (well, he didn’t help much in the playoffs).
Smith is shooting 34.8 percent overall this season (down from 42.2 percent last season) and 33.9 percent from three (down from 35.2). He’s not getting to the free throw line nearly as often, either. You could add he is taking bad shots and not defending to the list, but those were always true. He’s a uncounsious gunner, one whose shots are not falling right now. To sum it up simply, last season Smith had a PER of 17.6, well above the league average, and this season he is at 9.9, which is the kind of number that gets a rookie sent to the D-League for seasoning.
Add to that the off-the-court issues, the latest of which was a $50,000 for untying opposing players shoes during the game, and teams are not going to be very interested. So why go through this? Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has an idea:
Knicks trying to scare J.R. Smith straight with public, but empty trade talk. Of course, they understand there's no market for him.—
Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 09, 2014
The Knicks may be right to explore the market, because they need to look at all their options to shake things up right now, but they just aren’t going to get a player as good as him back.
If the Knicks are really serious about shaking up and rebuilding, maybe they should test the trade market for Carmelo Anthony. But that’s another topic entirely.
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