With rumors of J.R. Smith close to agreeing on a deal with the New York Knicks, as per Frank Isola of the Daily News, should Knicks fans be worried about disruption? I'm afraid not, and while many will disagree, I believe Smith will be a valuable asset to New York's bench.
The signing of J.R. is certainly to provide offense off the bench, a role Smith is comfortable at filling, and a role that he excels at. He is a career 37 percent three-point shooter, which the Knicks could use. All in all, J.R. will be utilized by Mike D'Antoni as a shooter off the bench to put up points while providing relief.
In his last season with the Denver Nuggets, Smith shot about 44 percent. He was averaging 12.3 points per game. Although he was only shooting 39 percent from behind the arc, he did manage to average four rebounds per game. That's not all that bad coming from a bench player.
One thing we do not have to worry about is Smith's conditioning. He has been an important piece to his Chinese team; it was even rumored that he had a 60-point game. Granted, the competition is not like that of the NBA, but that is still a feat in itself.
J.R. is already familiar with Carmelo Anthony and should have no problems meshing with New York in the locker room. He brings with him playoff experience and a load of talent. It will just be up to him to utilize his talent and not just throw up prayers for the sake of shooting.
Yes, Smith has had his "Ron Artest" moments, including the notorious MSG fight, but he has toned it down some and is now pursuing an NBA title. Once he learns D'Antoni's system, Smith should have no problem getting his minutes in off the bench.
A starting lineup of Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler appears very lethal on paper. Throw in bench players like Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, Jarred Jeffries, Steve Novak and J.R. Smith, and what once was a weakness could now be a strength.
If the deal goes through, the Knicks will need to make a roster spot opening. This could come in the form of releasing Mike Bibby, Toney Douglas or Renaldo Balkman. Given the lack of effort from the first two, I would not mind letting go of one for Smith.
J.R Smith is not a blockbuster signing, but he could be the missing component for a playoff run by the blue and orange. He is a proven catalyst and will certainly be valuable. After all, this wouldn't be the worst chance New York has taken a risk on, and it most certainly won't be the last.