Want to play for the New York Knicks, but aren't super tall or explosive? Well, you're in luck. Certain roster spots may be more about who you know than what you know or are capable of.
Chris Smith, the younger brother of J.R. Smith, is on a non-guaranteed contract in the Big Apple. Thanks to his familial ties, head coach Mike Woodson says Smith is still in the mix to make the team, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman:
Sure, it does. I look at him just like I look at J.R., though J.R. is the guy who played in a uniform and has been very productive for us. I have a great deal of respect for that family. That’s his brother. I respect that. We’ve got to make some decisions. What those decisions will be, I don’t know.
In related news, I'm Carmelo Anthony's eighth cousin, six times removed via divorce. What kind of contract am I looking at?
Alright you caught me; I'm not associated with the Anthony family. I kind of wish I was. Reaping the benefits of that connection would be super sweet, apparently.
"Right now it’s still up in the air," Smith said of his status with the Knicks, via Berman. "I’m just competing for a spot. I’ve shown my work ethic and pretty much an ability to come back from injuries."
What Smith hasn't shown is if he actually belongs. He's followed up a dismal summer league performance—during which he averaged roughly five points and two rebounds a night—with an even less impressive preseason effort. Through six games, Smith is shooting just 1-of-7 from the floor and has played a team-low 20 minutes.
Still, the Knicks appear to be leaning towards keeping him. In addition, Newsday's Al Iannazzone writes that the injured Jeremy Tyler is a "safe bet" to make the team. Combo guard Toure' Murry and forward Ike Diogu have been the Knicks' most productive preseason invites, but they can only retain one if they're to keep both Smith and Tyler.
With Amar'e Stoudemire constantly injured and Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler not exactly poster children for health themselves, the Knicks need insurance up front. Keeping two guards would be superfluous, meaning Diogu would be the player they hold on to. It also means Smith would essentially be taking a roster spot (Murry's) from a more deserving and serviceable player.
Smith himself has said, per Berman, that if he makes the roster, he'll likely spend most of his time with New York's D-League affiliate. Forgoing the opportunity to sign someone more NBA-ready than Smith would make little sense. But this is the point New York is at.
Should the Knicks hold onto Chris Smith?
Complicating matters even further is the fact that Smith is represented by Creative Artist Agency's Leon Rose, who also represents his brother and Anthony. CAA effectively runs New York now, and the Knicks have gone to great lengths to keep them happy, especially with 'Melo set to explore free agency next summer.
"He's still in the mix," Woodson said of the younger Smith, via Iannazzone. "I can't give you any answers in terms of which way we're going to go."
Answers aren't necessary anymore. By now, we know "which way" the Knicks will go. They'll make the same decision they always do, placating their business ties before they do diplomacy or what's best for the roster.