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Friday, February 17, 2012

J.R. Smith to the Knicks


Former Denver Nugget J.R. Smith is headed to New York to join the Jeremania (see what I did there). Assessing the move is tough because the Knicks are in a weird place right now. They are in the midst of a 7 game win streak that has been highlighted by the supernova of hype around Jeremy Lin. New York is also scheduled to get Carmelo Anthony back soon, and already the talk has turned to whether there will be enough shots to go around for Lin, Anthony, and Stoudemire. So, of course the Knicks' next move would be to sign a guard with a reputation for shoot-first tendencies.

Despite the talk of selfishness, I actually think this was a smart move. First, the price was right. Smith was given the mini mid-level exception, which, at $2.5 million, is far less than the almost $7 million he made last year in Denver. Second, I think he can be used as the primary scorer for the second unit. Assuming that the starting lineup will be Chandler-Stoudemire-Anthony-Fields-Lin when all are healthy, Smith could be used to provide offense off the bench. This was Smith's role in Denver and there's no doubt he's capable of it.

No doubt at all. Smith averaged almost 20 points per 40 minutes last year and shot 39 percent from three. His assist rate is actually pretty good for someone who is viewed as a chucker and his defensive rebound rate was 5th best among shooting guards, so he brings more to the table than just scoring. His usage rate was high (imagine something around what Mo Williams does for Los Angeles), but this will work if he is put with Shumpert, Douglas, and Jeffries. And the Knicks certainly do need help with their back up units. Pretty much any lineup that doesn't feature both Anthony and Stoudemire has averaged less than a point per possession. Smith will help to address this issue.

There are concerns, with shot selection being one. Over 42 percent of his shots inside the arc come from 16-23 feet and from observation, it seems Smith has never met a pull up jumper off the dribble that he didn't like. He also has never been considered any sort of defensive ace. However, for the money they're paying, the Knicks got quite a deal. One that should continue to fuel the theatrics in Madison Square Garden.

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