Feb 6, 2014, 6:58 PM EST
And that was just before the season began.
But when Smith returned after his suspension, Woodson immediately gave him big minutes. Heck, Woodson even gave Smith a starting spot.
Since, Smith has threatened Brandon Jennings, complained about the Knicks waiving a non-NBA-caliber player, taken one of the season’s worst shots, untied Dwight Howard’s shoes, untied Shawn Marion’s shoes and gestured toward untying Greg Monroe’s shoes.
Finally, Woodson benched Smith for a game.
Smith said he learned to “be a professional,” but a few days later, he was benched again for being late and complaining about his minutes. Again, Smith returned to the lineup and has received big minutes.
Oh, and he’s played really poorly this season.
As Smith obviously knows, the Knicks have fallen way short of expectations. They’re 19-30 – on track for their first losing season in four years, reversing their steady improvements since 2010.
Often, that scenario means the coach gets fired. So, it’s no surprise Smith feels this way:
Woodson isn’t beating around the bush anymore, either:
One of those players is Smith, who has produced at his worst levels since he was a 19-year-old rookie. If he wants to help Woodson keep his job, Smith must focus more on the court than he has most of the season.
And you know what? He actually has lately.
In the 11 games since his second benching, Smith is averaging 18.1 points per game, shooting 47 percent from the field and 46 percent on 3-pointers. The Knicks are just 4-7 in that span and have lost their last three, so Smith alone won’t save Woodson’s job.
But credit Smith for backing his coach through his play.
Woodson rewarded Smith with playing time on the assumption Smith would find his way out of his funk, and it might have worked. The coach has made more than his fair share of mistakes this season, but this might be one move he got right.
Now, Woodson must just find some way to get the Knicks’ other veterans to pick up their play for him. He can’t give them all a ton of playing time no matter their faults. There are only so many minutes to go around, and Smith already has a firm grasp on many of them.
- PBT’s Top 10 NBA stories of 2014, No. 8: Kobe Bryant returns 0
- PBT’s Sunday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Cavaliers shouldn’t hit panic button, may want to locate it 2
- Carmelo Anthony sits out second half vs. Portland with sore knee 4
- LeBron, after Cavaliers lose by 23 at home to Pistons: ‘Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game’ 39
- Paul Pierce ‘shocked’ by Celtics trade of Rajon Rondo to Mavericks 16
- Kobe Bryant will return to Lakers lineup Sunday vs. Suns 16
- Kevin Love benched entire fourth quarter of Cavaliers win over Magic 30
- PBT’s Top 10 NBA stories of 2014, No. 10: Anthony Davis’ breakout 22