Loyalty in the NBA may be an increasingly rare quality in the era of luxury taxes and billion-dollar TV contracts, but it never hurts to have some allies. With each subsequent step in J.R. Smith’s career, the number of people on his side seems to dwindle.
On Wednesday, the latest hit to Smith’s wilting career came via a report that the New York Knicks are looking to trade the mercurial shooting guard following his latest series of issues both on and off the court. Except, unsurprisingly, nobody wants the guy who’s never spent much time endearing himself to anybody.
As one executive told CBS Sports’ Ken Berger of another team actually wanting Smith: “Good luck with that.”
The 2013 Sixth Man of the Year is hitting rock bottom as a professional basketball player not long after peaking. Teams should be lining up to acquire a 27-year-old wing with his size and shooting ability; instead, they’re running away in fear that he’ll hijack their offense and wreck their chemistry. If you can imagine why teams wouldn’t want Rudy Gay, multiply that by 100 with Smith.
And then we get to the locker room stuff. Always a frustrating character away from the court, it’s become increasingly easy to focus on what Smith is doing beyond missing shots and playing lazy defense. On Wednesday, that culminated with the NBA fining Smith $50,000 for “recurring instances of unsportsmanlike conduct” in the past two games. The guy untied the shoes of Dallas’ Shawn Marion, then tried it again with Detroit’s Greg Monroe the next night. As in, an adult leaned into another adult and tried to untie the laces on his sneakers in front of thousands of people. Twice.
May I remind you Smith is being paid nearly $6 million this year before offering up these: