To his credit, since signing with the Knicks, JR has probably played the best basketball of his career evident by winning the NBA 6th Man of the Year award last season while barely missing a roster spot on the Eastern Conference all-star. However, all seems for not now that fan base, the owner, and the media have placed all blame at his feet to the point where you believe JR had something to do with “Bridge Gate” too!
While far from perfect, Smith also isn’t the cancer he has been portrayed to be. His 5-game drug suspension to start the season hurt the team, but certainly isn’t the only reason for the disappointing 15-24 record.
How about placing the blame on some the head scratching moves made by Head Coach Mike Woodson who during this season hasn’t appropriately developed Iman Shumpert, or how about his dependence of Iso-ball at end of games? Furthermore, his reluctance to play younger guys like Murry and now Jeremy Tyler, or his reluctance to curb JR’s indiscretions when it was warranted! Woodson more than anybody is the reason the Knicks are currently where they are.
With that said, Smith has certainly made himself an easy target with his threatening tweet to Piston PG Brandon Jennings, his “betrayal” tweet directed at the organization for releasing his brother, even though his contract was guaranteed assuring him a salary of $500K (like it or not), or the infamous “shoe-string” controversy and 50K fine he received for untying an opponents laces during the games, but those actions still shouldn’t warrant the personal attacks that have recently polluted the radio airwaves.
Smith has been referred to as a “coward”, “a spoiled suburban jump shooter”, as well as a “thug” just to name a few, which is unfortunate because most of the venom spewed has come from Knicks fans who now view JR as someone they rather just get rid of when in fact Smith arguably is still the 2nd best player on this roster (like it or not).
Should JR be traded? I guess in the right deal he should. Should JR be benched? I guess if there is a better option. But what I do know is the Knicks looked like world beaters last season when Smith was going well. Every effort should continue to be made to build that guy back up, not continue to tear him down, because whether you want to believe it or not, when JR SMITH plays well, the Knicks win! And winning is all that matters.