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The Extra Pass: J.R. Smith’s ‘joke gone wrong’ has him questioning his Knicks future

Jan 10, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

J.R. Smith Getty Images


NEW YORK — J.R Smith hasn’t played well enough this season to deserve either the minutes he’s been given, or the simple benefit of the doubt. And on Thursday night before a nationally televised game against the defending champion Miami Heat, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson finally did something about it.

Speaking to reporters more than 90 minutes before tip-off, Woodson shut down any talk of Smith, or his silly shoe-untying antics that went on for two straight games before the league office intervened with a $50,000 fine. As the questions came, Woodson refused to allow Smith to continue to become a focal point, and repeatedly deflected the queries as quickly as possible.

Then, the real magic happened.

When it was time for substitutions to occur in the first quarter, Smith didn’t get up and head to the scorer’s table. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Toure Murry were the first two in off the bench, and Smith sat at the end of it, both literally and figuratively, while choosing not to engage in his team’s sideline huddles.

Woodson had done it: Smith had been benched for this game, and possibly more. He received the dreaded DNP-CD, on a night his teammates more than picked up the slack in getting a 10-point victory over the Heat that was New York’s fourth in its last five games.

The one loss came by two points in Houston, on a night where Smith launched an ill-advised three-pointer late that potentially cost his team the win. His numbers are down substantially from those of last season, and that, along with the nonsense that has little to do with basketball warranted an internal, informal suspension lasting at least 48 minutes.

While Woodson wouldn’t comment at all about his player’s status, Smith was the first one available to media when the Knicks locker room opened post-game. And as it turned out, he had no idea he wouldn’t play on Thursday, and said he was uncertain about his future with the Knicks franchise.

“There hasn’t been any,” Smith said, when asked whether or not he had a discussion with his head coach since the fine was levied. “I think that’s the most misleading part of it. I could see if I was told, but there was no conversation about it.”

Smith also seemed confused about the warning he reportedly received from the league after he untied the shoes of Shawn Marion while playing the Mavericks.

“It was one of those warnings, you really don’t know the outcome of it,” Smith said. “You don’t even know if it was a warning or what it was. But at the end of the day it is what it is, I can’t change anything now.”

When asked if the punishment exceeded the crime, considering it has now affected his playing time as well as his pocketbook, Smith still didn’t seem to understand what all the fuss was about.

“It’s funny because the first time it was done, everybody thought it was hilarious,” he said. “And the second time it was done, it wasn’t even done. But at the end of the day it is what it is. I’m not going to fight it. We play hard, 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.”

Smith was signed to a three-year, $18 million contract in free agency by the Knicks last summer, a fragile deal in terms of J.R.’s past transgressions, but one that was in line with last season’s Sixth Man of the Year performance.

He’s followed that up with irresponsible behavior and below average basketball, however, so it’s no wonder he was questioning whether or not he has a future with the franchise.

“Honestly, I don’t even know at this point,” he said. “At one point I was for sure, and now it’s rocking the boat. But it is what it is, it’s the nature of the business.”

It doesn’t have to be, for most players. But Smith is unique, and always has been. He could greatly help the Knicks if he becomes focused on the game once again, instead of worrying about creating on-court foolishness during breaks in the action.

“It was a joke, but a joke gone wrong,” he said.

At this point, that is quite the understatement.

—Brett Pollakoff



This came after a photo of Kevin Durant smoking what he said was a hookah was tweeted out then deleted. There’s no reason not to believe him. — Kurt Helin


Knicks 102, Heat 92: What is it with the Knicks having the Heat’s number? The Knicks won the season series last season and on Thursday night put together a run at the end of the third, start of the fourth that gave them the game. Brett Pollakoff was at the game and wrote about it in more detail. — KH

Nuggets 101, Thunder 88: Denver looked pretty good in this one, with Ty Lawson using his quickness to break down the Thunder defense, Randy Foye shooting over the top of it (6-of-9 from three) and Evan Fournier coming in off the bench to drop 19 and look solid. We broke this game down in more detail here. — KH

  1. fanofevilempire - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    shoelace-gate keeps on gaining steam, maybe we should arrest the shoelace bandit for closing
    down the lanes in Fort Lee New Jersey too.

    • beijae50 - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      J.R., uses very poor judgement. He will end up later regretting his behavior.

      • stayhigh_247 - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        How do you not know when you’ve been warned? Sounds like he needs some psychological help. What I don’t get about Woodson, if this dude hadn’t gotten caught doing those high school antics, he would still be playing yet Metta can’t even get on the floor. The Knicks are a mess top to bottom

  2. shanelsweet - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    How hard it must be for fans to root for Smith, and why doesn’t he understand that and give us a break. Nobody watches the NBA to see and hear about this nonsense. It’s not entertainment

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      you make it seem like Smith told the press to make this news for how many days already.
      and now he has to talk about the DNP CD for a few more.

  3. thomaskouns - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Poster-child for not giving out multi-year guaranteed contracts.

    • marcusfitzhugh - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Smith was wrong on many levels. The drug issue, shoelaces, all of it. That said, NBA teams sign players to multiyear deals because they have to. If NY told the NBA’s 6th Man of the Year, “Here’s a one year deal, take it or leave it”, he would have laughed and signed somewhere else.

      Based on his play last year, the Knicks did the right thing in signing JR. Based on his antics this year, the Knicks are doing the right thing – exploring their trade options and sitting him. This business of Woody, the owner, and the GM all being wrong for having signed JR is silly. JR has talent. In the NBA, talent gets a contract. If NY cuts JR Smith, he’ll be signed within DAYS. Those who don’t think so can just watch and see what happens with Bynum.

  4. jolink653 - Jan 10, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    He was given a warning from the league after the Marion shoelace and then before the ink was even dry on that, he tries the same thing on Monroe after Woodson had talked to him. What doesn’t he understand? You can’t just keep doing stuff like that and expect to play. And then to not know the score of the game in Houston and essentially causing the team to lose a game they really needed to win? He sits until he learns to stop being an idiot

  5. fanofthegame79 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    I’m not a Smith fan, by any stretch (although, he was auto-drafted to my fantasy team, so I was hoping he would do well. He’s since been cut by me.) but I swear I’ve seen other NBA players untie shoes before. I was thinking it was during the 90’s, and I could be wrong. So if anyone else knows if this has happened in the past, let us all know. It just seems silly that this action warrents a $50k fine.

    • spursareold - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      The 50K fine was for doing it AGAIN, after the NBA warned him the first time.

      • fanofthegame79 - Jan 11, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Attempting to do it again. He didn’t actually untie Monroe’s shoe.

  6. capone888 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    The Knicks showed what they could be if only they permanently remove that cancer from the team.

    What a shame. All that talent and absolutely no brains or class.

  7. bobb12901 - Jan 10, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    he is the type of player that needs to go to a new team every two years cause then its a mystery what he can do on that team he surprises cause of his talent and does well then he thinks he is there to stay and doesn’t concentrate on the right things time to move and I like him he reminds me of starks

  8. longtallsam - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    What should have happened when the idiot bent over and grabbed a shoelace, the victim should have kicked him square in the face. That would stop that crap.

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