I don’t care how the New York Knicks do it, but they need to get rid of J.R. Smith as soon as possible. Not only is Smith an expendable shooter to begin with, but the emergence of Tim Hardaway Jr. has forced Smith out of his sixth man role. Iman Shumpert is supposed to return in less than two weeks, and with news that the Knicks turned down a first-round pick for him, it’s evident that Shumpert could still have a long career with the Knicks. He was off his game for most of the season, but he still has great upside. Hardaway and Shumpert should be New York’s top guards next season along with whichever point guard they can add.
Over the last 11 games, the Knicks are a dreadful 2-9. Smith played in 10 of those games and went 54-for-128 from the field. At a shooting percentage of .422, Smith has shot higher than his season percentage of .387, which is the lowest of his career. Smith misses most of his shots in the last quarter where coach Mike Woodson gives him the majority of his minutes. With the team usually down late in the game, Woodson puts out a lineup with all of their supposed shooters. Smith doesn’t just take a lot of shots; he takes as many shots as he can. With the amount of bricks Smith tosses, you’d think he was building a new stadium next to Madison Square Garden.
Smith is on this team to make shots. Everything else in his game is just average. If he’s not making shots, he’s not helpful to the team, and it’s as simple as that. Smith talks a lot and does a lot of dumb things, and it’s a mystery how he’s even still on the team. Even his facial protective mask is sick of him missing shots. If he’s not producing on the court he is useless. There’s no reason why Amar’e Stoudemire, Toure Murry and Jeremy Tyler aren’t taking minutes away from Smith.
It’s too late for the Knicks to pursue a trade for Smith since that time has passed. Smith will make $5.57 million for this season and he still has two years left on his contract, the last being a player option. Next year Smith is owed $5.98 million and the third year option is worth $6.4 million. The contract isn’t too terrible to the point where you’d completely discard the idea of a buyout. If the Knicks were able to work out a deal where they could send Smith home while paying him for next year and part of his option, they absolutely need to do it.
With the exception of obtaining a decent point guard, the New York’s top priority should be getting Smith off this team. If they can’t buy him out, they need to stop playing him. It’s true, you can’t blame one player for a team’s struggles, but if I had to pick one player who is responsible for this recent tailspin, I wouldn’t be able to. I’d have to include Raymond Felton along with Smith.