New York Knicks: Why Trading J.R. Smith Will Benefit The Team

By Joseph Wolkin
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are somewhat turning things around. After an embarrassing start to the 2013-14 NBA season, the Knicks have been able to pick up where the left off when they were defeated in the NBA Playoffs last year. Good, but not good enough.

The team’s troubles started before the season, signing players to positions which they did not need. See, the Knicks need a PG that can score more than 11.1 PPG and 5.3 AST per game from Raymond Felton. However, they seemed to have found something by splitting playing time with Beno Udrih, who has been able to fill in for Felton at key points in the game.

Throughout the Knicks’ loss against the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday evening, it was clear that the Knicks were not a well managed team. It is not Mike Woodson‘s fault that the team is constructed with one of the most inconsistent benches in the NBA, but it is his fault that the team has not been able to gain some chemistry at this point in the season after having such high expectations.

Even though the team is being led by Carmelo Anthony on the scoring side and Tyson Chandler on the defensive end, there has been very little consistency for a team which just ended a five-game winning streak. Anthony is rumored to be leaving the organization after the 2014 season, and there are plenty of reasons why he should, one of them being J.R. Smith.

Smith has been awful since signing a contract extension with the Knicks over the offseason. He currently has a career-low in FT percentage at a disgraceful .596, and for the team’s “shooter,” has a career-low in shooting percentage as well at just .357. It might be the New York City limelight that has gotten to Smith’s head, or maybe it is his stubbornness. Either way, he is not a player which the Knicks need on their roster as they attempt to return to their winning ways in the second half of the season.

The foreseeable future for the Knicks does not look all that great, at least with Smith and his distractions on the team. Smith was fined $50,000 for untying one of his rival’s sneakers during a free throw, and attempted to do the same thing in the next game. It is an utterly ridiculous thing for an NBA player to do, let alone the reigning sixth man of the year.

It’s safe to say that Smith is an exceptionally talented player. However, even last season, his levels of consistency and decision making were extremely poor, questioning the team’s decision to resign him and not pick up a free agent such as former Knicks SG, Jamal Crawford.

Unfortunately for the Knicks, Smith is under contract with the organization for two seasons after this one concludes. He will be averaging $6 million each year, and that is on-top of jersey sales and other personal contracts he has. Smith was benched for the game against the Bobcats after reportedly having a little fire with Woodson.

Now that he is eligible to be traded, Knicks GM Steve Mills will likely begin to shop a package centered around Smith. What team that wants to take his drama is highly questionable, and the Knicks might need to take a prospect or a second round draft pick just to get rid of him. A possible package would be sending Smith and Felton off together, or possibly trading for a top PG like Rajon Rondo by sending Smith, Felton and Iman Shumpert off to another team.

Whatever the Knicks opt to do, they certainly do not benefit by having Smith within their organization’ they have dealth with his behavior for too long now. Fans are not happy, and it is hurting the team’s chemistry, something they will need if they want to remain the “top” team in New York.

Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.

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