NBA Playoffs 2012: J.R. Smith Crippling Knicks Offense, Contract Expectations

Matt Dienstag@MEDdaWorldStagContributor IIIMay 9, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06:  J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks drives in the first half against Joel Anthony #50, LeBron James #6, Mike Miller #13 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Going into the postseason, the Knicks were relying on J.R. Smith to make plays and provide scoring off the bench.

With Smith able to opt out of his deal with the Knicks at the end of the season, proving to be more clutch than streaky with his shooting in the postseason was essential to his hopes of getting a large contract offer from another team.

To this point, Smith has done anything but.

Smith has not only been horrid shooting the basketball, but he has been turnover-prone and the culprit of a lot of dumb fouls.

In the first four games against the Heat, Smith shot above 50 percent just once. As awful as he shot in Game 3 (28 percent) he managed to top that effort with a 3-of-15 stinker in Game 4.

And it's not like Smith was heavily guarded in the games at Madison Square Garden. Smith was constantly left wide open; Heat defenders were begging him to shoot it.

Besides his horrendous shooting, Smith has been very turnover-prone in this series. Granted, he's had to pick up the ball-handling responsibilities with the injuries to the other guards on the roster, but he has frequently had the ball taken away from him as a result of too much dribbling.

And yet, perhaps the worst part of his play has come on the defensive end. Smith has constantly committed pointless fouls that have resulted in three-point opportunities for the Heat.

While being aggressive on defense is something that every coach will preach to his players, there is a definitive line that shouldn't be crossed. Smith is being beaten off the dribble and fouling after it's too late, a cardinal sin in basketball.

What makes matters worse is that he isn't compensating for these stupid fouls on the offensive end. He may make a nice play or shot once in a while, but for every good play he makes, he seems to make four or five bad ones.

Smith is going to need a sensational effort in Game 5 if he even wants to dream of getting a large contract offer from another team.

Thus far, Smith has done very little to change the perception of his game in the minds of opposing general managers. He's always been labeled as a streaky shooter with a questionable attitude, and that is the exact effort he has given the Knicks so far.

If he wants to prove that he really is a great shooter and overall player worth big money, he's going to need to start playing like one. Fast.