J.R. Smith was up to his shoelace shenanigans once again in New York's latest game against the Detroit Pistons. The league's worst shooting guard attempted to un-tie the shoelaces of Pistons big man Greg Monroe during the first quarter while waiting at the free throw line. This time however, Smith was fined $50,000 by the NBA for this repeated prank. In response to the Smith fiasco, rumor has it that the Knicks have begun the process of exploring trade options for the NBA's biggest class clown.
As expected, I caught a tremendous amount of flack for defending Smith's foolish shoelace action against the Mavericks. The only reason I took such a bizarre stance on this matter is because Smith obviously lacks the capability to help the Knicks win in a conventional manner, Therefore, I was encouraged to see that he was at least thinking outside the box and trying to help the team in some capacity. Now that Smith has tried this stupidity again, and the Knicks have seemingly had enough of his nonsense, I believe that "shoe-gate" will actually prove to be J.R. Smith's best moment in his Knick career. Let me explain.
The New York Knicks should be ashamed of themselves for even re-signing Smith in the first place. Smith already had a checkered past to begin with and has previously been fined by the NBA even before this latest incident during his three-year tenure with the Knicks. In addition, the Knicks already have a nice core group of younger shooting guards with even more upside than Smith anyway. Both Iman Shumpert and rookie first-round draft pick Tim Hardaway Jr. are better players right now, and have much more potential to improve than Smith. So from purely a numbers standpoint, that money could have been spent elsewhere to help improve the team. Instead, the Knicks are now top-heavy with shooting guards, and are severely lacking in front-court depth.
The most damning evidence against Smith are the major red flags concerning Smith's effort on the court. After scoring a career high 18.1 points per game during the 2012-13 regular season and winning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, Smith virtually disappeared during New York's 2013 playoffs series vs Indiana. In the six-game series which the Knicks lost to the Pacers, Smith shot an abysmal 29% from the field including 23% from three point range. Sure, it could have been that Smith simply had a bad slump at the worst possible time. But it also isn't out of the realm of possibility to think that Smith could have planned all along to coast through the series with Indiana because he was in a contract year and had already done enough to secure another payday with the club. Under normal circumstances, it is blasphemous to insinuate that a professional athlete would purposely give a half hearted effort during a high-stakes playoff matchup, but this is J.R. Smith we are talking about here.
Once the Knicks foolishly decided to reward Smith with a 3-year $18 million contract, it looks as though this season has been another tank job by J.R. "Chucky Cheese" Smith. With a long-term deal no longer on the line, Smith has seemingly resorted back to his usual sub-par brand of basketball as he continues to shoot brick after brick and clearly does not pay any attention to his job during crucial parts of games. Frankly, I believe Smith was locked in and focused last year just so he could get one more big contract. At age 28, Smith knows that these are his prime years of earning potential as a pro athlete. Now that Smith has signed his new deal, by the time his current contract is up, he will be on the wrong side of 30. And based on his current standing with the team, Smith clearly doesn't give a s**t about playing in the NBA beyond that age.
In conclusion, "shoe-gate" may prove to be Smith's most valuable contribution to the team because it serves as a wake up call that the Knicks desperately needed. In my opinion, Smith's latest actions prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is nothing more than a two-bit scam artist. His mentality to deceive opponents on the court is the same mentality he used to deceive the Knick into opening their check book. It would be a welcomed relief to see the Knicks turn the page and ship this cancer out of town. Yes, the Knicks have a host of other problems that have contributed to their failures this year, but trading J.R. Smith would be a major step in the right direction. The only question remains what could the Knicks possibly get in return by trading away a shooting guard who cannot shoot or guard? I'd settle for a few extra shoelaces to be honest with you.