J.R. Smith expected to be benched again Saturday vs. 76ers

Jan 11, 12:59 PM

According to NY Post, the New York Knicks are likely to keep J.R. Smith on the bench once again for Saturday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Smith, who the Knicks are trying to scare with trade talks after he was hit with a $50,000 fine for attempting to untie a player's shoelace on two separate occasions, was benched for Thursday's win over the Miami Heat. 

Head coach Mike Woodson was clearly trying to send a message to Smith for his behavior throughout the season, and Smith isn't happy about the fact he'll likely sit out a second consecutive game.

One can understand why Woodson is keeping a firm stance on the issue. Following Thursday's game, Smith was photographed in a Manhattan nightclub posing for a picture as he untied a clubber's shoelace (not exactly a sign he feels any remorse over the incident).

[H/T to Josh, who supplied the picture to Deadspin]

Jan 16, 4:54 PM

Woodson says J.R. Smith will be in uniform Thursday, hints he'll play

Jan 16, 4:54 PM

"Will J.R. Smith play?" Coming soon to a Vegas book near you.

The hot-and-cold usage of Smith appears ready to continue Thursday when the Knicks take on the Indiana Pacers.

As a recap, Smith was benched on Jan. 9 for the notorious shoelace-untying incident(s) and resultant fine. He then played on Jan. 11 and Jan 13., only to be benched Tuesday for a reported run-in with coach Mike Woodson over his usage in the game on Jan. 13. He was also late to a team meeting on Tuesday, because he's J.R. Smith.

On Thursday, Woodson sure made it sound like Smith will draw back in against Indiana:

"I need J.R. every game, every game I need J.R.," Woodson said. "And J.R. will be back in uniform today and we'll go from there."

While "in uniform" doesn't mean he'll play, it seems unlikely Woodson would make that statement and then bench the troublesome two-guard. Unless, of course, there's a disciplinary issue before gametime, which is probably a 50/50 proposition.

Jan 15, 1:02 PM

Report: Knicks' Smith benched Tuesday after altercation with Woodson

Jan 15, 1:02 PM

J.R. Smith doesn't have a reason to cite cluelessness about his benching on Tuesday for the Knicks win in Charlotte.

According to a New York Daily News source, the guard was vocal with coach Mike Woodson about not starting the overtime in Monday's contest against Phoenix. Smith missed what would have been the game-winning shot in regulation and wasn't used in the extra period until 47.2 seconds remained.

Smith spoke for nearly three minutes with reporters, continually noting he didn't understand. (See the timeline below for a complete video clip.)

The same source revealed to the Daily News that the two spoke immediately after Tuesday's game (in which Smith was relegated to the bench again) and they both appeared upset during the brief meeting.

Woodson again declined to comment on Smith in his postgame appearance.

Jan 15, 10:11 AM

VIDEO: Knicks' J.R. Smith on not playing Tuesday

Jan 15, 10:11 AM

New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson didn't play embattled guard J.R. Smith on Tuesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, something Smith didn't know was happening until the game was...well, actually happening.

Asked by reporters why he didn't play, Smith said: "I haven't the slightest clue."

The downtrodden guard played in Saturday's game against the Sixers and Monday's game against the Suns after Woodson held him out against Miami on Thursday.

The coach spoke out about the guard's behavior (including the shoelace incident) for the first time on Monday, noting he expected Smith to concentrate on basketball, which seems fairly difficult to do when he doesn't know what's going on anymore.

"For [the sneaker thing] to be the trigger point for all of this to happen is ridiculous," Smith said.

The entire clip here:

[Courtesy: NBAshowtimeHD8]

Jan 15, 12:18 AM

J.R. Smith benched again for Knicks' loss to Bobcats

Jan 15, 12:18 AM

Just when we thought we may have heard of the last of J.R. Smith-Mike Woodson saga, the feud appears to have escalated once again as Smith remained on the bench during the Knicks' 109-98 loss to the Bobcats on Tuesday.

But this time around, no one seems to know what the hell is going on.

Even Smith's teammates aren't sure why Smith didn't play against the Bobcats.

When Smith was benched against the Heat on Thursday, it was clear that Woodson was attempting to discipline Smith for his shoelace-untying antics that resulted in a $50,000 fine for the shooting guard.

But Smith returned to the Knicks' lineup for Saturday's game against the 76ers as well as Monday's game against the Suns. He played well in both games and it appeared the whole incident had blown over.

But here we are, and Woodson is refusing to explain why Smith was left on the bench for the second time in four games.

One potential explanation is that Smith's days in New York are numbered as the Knicks have the option to trade the shooting guard on Wednesday.

Jan 14, 8:36 AM

Knicks' Woodson finally speaks: 'I expect J.R. Smith to concentrate on playing basketball'

Jan 14, 8:36 AM

The message from New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson to J.R. Smith seems so simple: just play basketball. Really - that's all.

"The bottom line is he's got to be more of a pro and do the right things and just concentrate on playing basketball," the coach said Monday via ESPN's Ian Begley, finally breaking his silence on Smith's transgressions.

Over the last week, the 28-year-old's non-basketball related antics on the court have proved a costly distraction. Smith was fined $50,000 by the league for trying to untie the shoelaces of his opponents in games against the Mavericks and Pistons.

Woodson didn't address the troubled shooting guard immediately, but his decision to bench Smith against the Miami Heat on Thursday was a clear statement of frustration. 

Two days later, the coach put Smith into action in the second quarter against Philadelphia. He undoubtedly contributed to the 102-92 win over the Sixers with his 14 points off the bench, but Woodson would not answer questions from reporters about the guard in his postgame presser. Smith said the two spoke on Friday.

"That's the name of the game, nothing else," Woodson said Monday. "You got to concentrate on your craft and what you're being paid to do -- that's play basketball. ... That's all I want him to do."

According to Begley's report, sources told ESPN last week that Smith's frustrating behavior on and off the court have prompted the Knicks to explore the potential trade market.

Jan 13, 8:31 PM

Larry Bird was untying shoelaces back in the day, says new book

Jan 13, 8:31 PM

Sorry, J.R. Smith, but somebody beat you to the whole untying-an-opponents shoelaces. Of course, when you're Larry Bird, it's probably a lot easier to get away with it without fines and a benching.

In an excerpt from Jack McCallum's upcoming book about the 1990-91 Boston Celtics, Unfinished Business, Deadspin revealed that Bird used to untie the shoes of rival Chuck Person.

Bird and Person continued their personal battle. At one point when Bird was out of the game and lying on his towel in front of the bench, he reached over and untied Person's shoelaces as the Pacer waited for a free throw at the other end.

And, like Smith, Bird had some self-control issues off the court as well, at least while injured.

"I was so bored, I'd set around the house, drive my wife crazy, and eat and eat. In two and a half weeks I was off I ate ten gallons of ice cream and seven weddin' cakes. Why them? I ate weddin' cakes 'cause you knew they was gonna be good. I mean, who would fuck up a weddin' cake?"

So, there you have it. As much trouble as Smith can be at times, he's really just trying to be like Larry.

Jan 13, 10:25 AM

Carmelo Anthony thinks Knicks teammate J.R. Smith is 'opening his eyes'

Jan 13, 10:25 AM

Carmelo Anthony thinks the $50,000 shoelace saga is opening the eyes of his Knicks teammate J.R. Smith. Smith, as recently as Saturday, continued to argue that he didn't understand the meaning of 'growing up.'

"Me and J.R. talk sometimes all day and night," Anthony said to the New York Post after the Knicks' 102-92 victory on Saturday. The two were previously teammates with Denver.

You have to give Carmelo some major credit for talking to Smith 'all day and night' because that's got to be exhausting. Anthony continued, via Marc Berman of the Post:

"Certain situations, you have to open your eyes and look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘It’s time to change myself. Everyone else is giving me chances and everybody else wants me to change. If I’m not changing myself, it’s irrelevant.’ I think this is a situation that opened his eyes up. He looked at himself in the mirror, hopefully, and said he wants to change, he’s got to change. It’s up to him now.”

The Knicks have listed Tyson Chandler and Beno Udrih as questionable for Monday's contest. Though Smith came into Saturday's game after a five-quarter long benching, coach Mike Woodson didn't acknowledge much of his 14-point contribution. 

Knicks media relations reportedly cut off Woodson's presser when further questions were asked about his relationship with Smith.

Jan 12, 11:41 AM

J.R. Smith on what he learned from benching: 'Don't goof around, I guess'

Jan 12, 11:41 AM

New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson had to insert guard J.R. Smith back onto the floor eventually. 

His timing, as it turns out, was brilliant, as Smith poured in 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and added six assists in the Knicks 102-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night - their fourth win in a row.

And, although he may sound like a toddler forced to apologize for reaching his hand into the cookie jar one too many times, Smith said after the game that he learned from being tied to the bench. 

"Don't goof around, I guess. Be serious. Be a professional. And just don't take this opportunity here you have for granted," Smith said, via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. "There's a lot of people in this world that want our jobs. You can't take it for granted. It can be taken away just that fast."

Smith described the benching as "the worst feeling in the world," but for Woodson, it was necessary in fronting the maturation of Smith - a task made especially difficult by the 28-year-old's admission of ignorance.

Jan 11, 10:27 PM

J.R. Smith records six assists, 14 points off Knicks bench in return to play

Jan 11, 10:27 PM

New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson didn't have an explanation for why he put J.R. Smith into the game on Saturday night, even though the guard was very likely going to be sitting on the bench for the second consecutive game.

Smith questioned his future with the team when he was benched on Thursday night after being slapped with a $50,000 fine from the league for untying Shawn Marion's shoelace, but his Woodson-imposed penalty for bad behavior was over by the second quarter in Saturday's road affair.

"I just decided to put him in," the coach told reporters after the Knicks 102-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. "He played well."

The 28-year-old nearly matched his season high (7) in assists with six, and recorded 14 points in his 27 minutes off the bench.

Jan 11, 4:30 PM

Shoelace saga: J.R. Smith thinks fans should get a better sense of humor

Jan 11, 4:30 PM

New York Knicks' J.R. Smith wishes fans had a better sense of humor about the shoelace prank he's allegedly been pulling for the last five years. 

According to the New York Post, Smith said Saturday he's "extremely surprised" about the backlash from the incidents that have become a "distraction to the team."

(Maybe we're all angry that we've never GIFed a Smith shoelace stunt before this week...)

Smith was fined $50,000 by the league for untying Shawn Marion's shoelaces in Dallas last Sunday. He tried to execute the dirty deed again on Tuesday against the Pistons.

“I’ve been doing it four, five years. I’ve only seen it from the joking side," he said. "It is what it is. I guess some people don’t have a sense of humor.”

Following Thursday's game, Smith made a joke of the fine at a club, staging an untying of someone's shoe for a photo. The guard was benched for Thursday's contest.

Coach Mike Woodson was asked several ways about Smith's status and future with the Knicks, accoring to the Post's Marc Berman. He has yet to answer.

"He's been telling me [to grow up] since I got here," Smith said of Woodson. "Honestly, growing up, I really don't understand the true meaning of it. I've been misunderstood my whole life. It's not going to change now."

Well, yes. That's fairly obvious.

Jan 9, 11:11 PM

J.R. Smith unhappy after benching, unsure of future

Jan 9, 11:11 PM

Despite cheering his teammates on and celebrating with them as they defeated the Miami Heat 102-92 on Wednesday, J.R. Smith didn't put on a happy face for long.

Benched for the entirety of the game, Smith expressed his surprise and displeasure to the media just minutes after the New York Knicks signature victory finished.

Amid rumors that the Knicks are exploring trading him, Smith indicated that he's unsure if his future is in New York. It's a vague statement, sure, but it gives you an idea of where Smith's head is at.

As for whether the benching is a one-game thing or a more permanent move, Smith was unclear.

As outlined below, it seems unlikely the Knicks will be able to find a taker for Smith without either kicking something in as a sweetener - and the cupboard is rather bare in that regard - or taking back an even worse contract.

Jan 9, 9:17 PM

J.R. Smith getting benched Thursday, Knicks sending message?

Jan 9, 9:17 PM

While most of the basketball media scoffed at the idea of the New York Knicks attempting to trade J.R. Smith - after all, who wants a troublesome, inefficient scorer with a sizable guaranteed contract? - that may have been the point.

If that seemed somewhat obvious but dubious at the time, it appears it was only the first prong in a plan to wake Smith up.

Through a half on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, Smith has remained glued to the Knicks bench, even though the team is thin on guards. Instead, Toure' Murry and Tim Hardaway Jr. have taken Smith's regular minutes.

Smith is not having a good time.

Whether trade rumors and his minutes being cut are enough for the 28-year-old Smith to straighten out when it comes to shot selection and off-court issues remains to be seen.

If you think any clarity may come from head coach Mike Woodson, think again.

“In fairness to our team, I’m not addressing anything else with J.R.,” Woodson said Thursday. “I’m not. Just not going to do it.”

Jan 8, 5:17 PM

Report: Knicks are exploring J.R. Smith trade options

Jan 8, 5:17 PM

Three years, $18 million, guaranteed money.

A 34.8 percent field goal percentage.

Issue after issue after issue off the court.

Sound attractive to you? Well, it probably doesn't sound attractive to NBA teams, either. However, as difficult as it might be to find a fit or a team willing to take him on, the New York Knicks are reportedly exploring trade options for controversial shooting guard J.R. Smith.

According to the report, "the organization has become increasingly frustrated with Smith's on and off-court transgressions and increasingly feel that a fresh start might be best for all parties."

Earlier Wednesday, coach Mike Woodson expressed displeasure with Smith and his recent shoelace incident (linked above), saying, "It's just got to stop. I keep saying this every time something pops up, but it's got to stop," words that seem to stretch beyond shoelaces.

It appears Smith is aware, or has curious timing with his motivational tweets (this came three minutes before the ESPN report):

[Dap: Jared Dubin for pointing that out.]

And then this, shortly after:

While it's tough to see at present, there are a few reasons a team may roll the dice on Smith. For one, the contract isn't exorbitant. 

More importantly, he can score. Despite the horrible shooting percentage this year, Smith won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season averaging 18.1 points. While he hasn't had even a league-average true shooting percentage since 2008-09, teams have been shown to value "scoring" ability, even if said ability is really just "lacking a conscience and firing up a ton of shots."

The "fresh start" narrative probably doesn't hold in the case of Smith, who at age 28 appears incapable or unwilling to mature. He's also playing really poorly.

An additional report from CBS Sports quotes one executive as saying, "Good luck with that," and another as saying, "I hear Shanghai has a spot." Ouch.

Smith can not be traded until Jan. 15 based on language in the collective bargaining agreement. The Knicks will work the phones until then and beyond, and we wish them the best of luck - they have little they can add to a deal to make it more palatable, though they could theoretically take on an even worse contract.

Another report indicates that the market not being there might not matter, because the point is to send a message Smith: