With two solid performances behind him, J.R. Smith thought he was beyond his very public benching. Quite the contrary, as Smith found out from the end of the bench over the course of the New York Knicks’ 108-98 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday. He watched for 48 minutes as every other player on the Knicks’ 13-man roster, from Carmelo Anthony to Cole Aldrich, logged playing time. Asked when he realized he would not play one single minute, Smith responded, “As the game was going on.” His latest crime — as far as we know — is snatching loose the shoelaces of opposing players and picking up a $50,000 fine by the NBA as a result. And while he has had brushes in the past and come out scot-free, Smith doesn’t understand why this offense would lead to such treatment. “Honestly, I don’t even know,” Smith said. “It could, it could not. But for that to be the trigger point for all this to happen is ridiculous." Smith watched as his minutes were split between Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the wings. Each player is free of the baggage that follows Smith, but neither player is better than him. Just last season, Smith was the Sixth Man of the Year and averaged 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds. The Knicks rewarded that effort with a three-year, $18 million contract. But Smith hasn’t been the same player this season following offseason knee surgery and a five-game suspension for breaking the NBA’s anti-drug policy. Smith has put up 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds and his shooting numbers are down across the board. It should surprise no one that it is much easier to tolerate a productive headache. Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who has been so supportive of Smith in the past, offered a “no comment” in response to inquiries about his decision to sit Smith.
Knicks must think benching J.R. Smith is their headache remedy
Sporting News | Jan 15