The Knicks hope they can retain J.R. next year.
J.R. Smith was one of the most important players for the New York Knicks this season. Although he didn’t start a single game, Smith was the most influential player on the roster next to Carmelo Anthony.
The problem in New York is that Smith might not be around next season. This summer, Smith can opt out of his contract and test the free agency market.
Last year, the Knicks paid Smith less than $3 million. If they’d like to keep his services in the Big Apple, they’re going to have to fork over more than that this summer.
Although no one likes to spend more money, here are five reasons why the Knicks must do everything in their power to bring back “Swish”.
J.R. was a consistent scorer for New York.
The biggest reason the Knicks need J.R. Smith is his ability to score. Despite not being a starter, Smith was second in scoring on the team to only Anthony, who also led the NBA in scoring with 28.7 points per game in the regular season.
Smith, who averaged 18 points during the regular season, didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (42 percent), but if you’ve ever seen him play, you know what you’re getting. Smith never has a second thought about throwing up a shot.
Even though he can go cold at times, Smith is known to get hot just as quickly. When he’s in the zone, there’s no one that can guard him.
If New York doesn’t re-sign Smith, his 18 points per game will be difficult to replace.
Smith after he beat the Suns.
J.R. Smith was one of the most clutch players in the NBA. If the ball wasn’t going to Carmelo, Smith was the next in line to take control of the possession during the final moments of games.
Smith had two separate occasions where he single-handedly won games during the regular season.
Beyond the postseason, where Smith just wasn’t himself, I’d consider him as one of the more clutch guys in the league. He has the confidence and talent needed to take over tight situations at the end of games.
Smith's energy was great all season.
Another component of J.R. Smith’s game is his ability to bring energy off the bench.
Even though he didn’t start, Smith played the same amount of minutes as most starters, averaging 33.5 per game.
The key with Smith was that whenever he was on the court, New York played with a high energy. Smith’s style of play helped the Knicks become more up-tempo and push the action.
Although the Knicks often like to set up their offense in half-court sets, it’s never bad to have someone that likes to score in transition. Smith is elusive when attacking the basket and can hit the three-pointer, both of which come easier when the Knicks were pushing the ball.
Smith is one of the younger Knicks.
One of the biggest reasons the Knicks must keep J.R. Smith is his youth.
You might think that the 27-year-old isn’t all that young, but on this Knicks' roster it is. In fact, Smith is one of only six Knickerbockers who is under the age of 30.
The team will definitely add another young piece in next month’s draft, but whomever they pick will not accumulate Smith’s production.
Clearly, based on his statistics, Smith is playing at the height of his career. There’s no reason to let someone go when they’re in their prime.
Smith in New York fits perfectly.
The last reason J.R. Smith needs to remain in New York is the swagger and attitude he brings to the team.
The Knicks are Smith and J.R. is New York.
Since arriving in the greatest city in the world, Smith has thrived, playing the best ball of his career.
By the same regard, Knicks fans have shown their love for Smith and welcomed him as one of their own. The New Jersey native fits in perfectly with the New York flavor and should spend the remainder of his career as a Knick.