Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Knicks Re-Sign J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith Returning to Knicks

The New York Knicks and shooting guard J.R. Smith have agreed to a new contract after Smith declined his player option earlier in the season.

After declining a $2.5 million dollar option, Smith and the Knicks agreed to a two year contract with each year being worth $2.8 million, a 20% increase from last season’s salary.  The second year of the contract is not guaranteed, as it is a player option.

Smith’s role with the Knicks this year could see an increase because of roster moves.  With Landry Fields verbally reaching a contract with the Toronto Raptors, Smith is expected to step into the starting shooting guard role.  Also, with Iman Shumpert shelved for the time being, Smith will have to pick up some of his minutes as well.

Retaining Smith is a good move for the Knicks in my opinion.  People who saw him play with the Knicks last season after returning from China can make a strong argument that it is not by looking at the stats; Smith shot 40.7% from the field and 34.7% from three point range in the regular season, below his career averages of 42.7% and 36.9%.  His numbers in the playoffs against the Heat were even worse, dropping to 31.6% and 17.9%.

But if you look past the shooting numbers you can build a strong argument for Smith being a good player to retain.  He plays good defense, stepping up against bigger players such as Lebron James and being able to guard both guard spots as well.  He also provided the Knicks with another ball handler when Jeremy Lin went down with an injury. 

Where Smith helps and isn’t given credit for is on the boards.  He rebounds well for a shooting guard, something the Knicks are going to miss with Fields north of the border.

Smith also showed great growth under head coach Mike Woodson so it will be interesting to see how much more development he can have in a full season under Woodson.  Smith has all the talent in the world and the tools to be a top NBA player, he just needs a coach and staff that are willing to work with him through his rough patches and help him grow as not only a basketball player but a person as well. 

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