According to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News, New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson stated that the recently signed Chris Smith Jr.'s saw his chance of making the roster enhanced by the fact he's J.R. Smith's brother. This has caused some to oppose such preferential treatment.
It may be controversial, but the Knicks are right to favor Smith because of his family ties.
For those unfamiliar, Chris Smith spent time at both Manhattan College in New York City and the University of Louisville. He went undrafted in 2012, and has been a member of the Knicks' Summer League teams in 2012 and 2013.
Per Isola, that background with the team isn't the only thing that has Woodson intrigued.
Mike Woodson revealed that Chris Smith’s hopes of earning one of the Knicks' final roster spots is enhanced by being J.R. Smith’s younger brother.
“Sure it does,” Woodson told reporters on Wednesday in Green Bay.
“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,” Woodson said. “That’s his brother. I respect that. We got to make some decisions. What those decisions will be, I don’t know."
It's not such a bad idea to go with what's trusted.
Isola goes on to report that the Knicks would likely send Smith to the D-League, but he could end up on the back-end of the bench. If the latter transpires, the Knicks will receive a major boost to their postseason odds.
If you ask Smith, he earned his position.
Chris Smith on being JR's brother: "Did it help me? Of course." But Chris adds: "I feel like I earned my position on the team." #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 25, 2013
Just don't forget that a locker room presence is just as important as an on-court warrior.
Chemistry Can Always Improve
When it comes to building its roster, New York has already added the players who will see playing time. There's extraordinary depth at virtually every position, which makes any signing that New York executes one of minimal on-court value.
What is important for the Knicks, however, is building up a well-oiled locker room.
It's quite underrated how important it is for a team, specifically one in the title hunt, to develop chemistry with one another. The issue for the Knicks in recent seasons has been the fact that a majority of the stars on the roster are of a shoot-first mentality.
In turn, egos have clashed.
Chris Smith wouldn't be a cure-all, and the Knicks have made notable improvements under coach Woodson. What Smith would do, however, is serve as a familiar face that is related to one of the team's most important players.
In a city in which the media is as heartless as you'll find, the Knicks, and specifically J.R. Smith, would benefit greatly from this signing. Smith is a player that is well-liked in New York, and whether he's in practices or on the bench, his presence can do no harm.
That's a critical piece of information for one of the NBA's true boom-or-bust scorers: J.R. Smith.
The J.R. Factor
When it comes to the Knicks, the consistency of their go-to scorers will decide how far this team goes. That was evident during the 2013 NBA playoffs, when the Knicks collapsed just as J.R. Smith's shots stopped falling.
Someone needs to explain why it's a bad idea for New York to sign a player that knows Smith as well as anyone in the world.
Smith won the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year award, averaging 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals on a slash line of .422/.356/.762. During the playoffs, however, Smith reminded the world that he's still one of the most inconsistent players in basketball.
In 11 postseason games, Smith posted marks of .331/.273/.721.
The true issue with all of this is that Smith averaged 14.8 shot attempts per game during his disappointing postseason. Those numbers provide evidence that Smith will shoot his way out of slumps, and for that reason, the Knicks need someone who can get into his head.
His brother would be the most ideal fit.
Smith has made tremendous strides as a player, and it'd be foolish to say anything else about the player he's become. For the Knicks, however, his success is directly correlated with how well they perform as a team.
Showing preference to a player who could play a key role in the locker room isn't anything to frown upon. It's a smart approach.