Just when you think the New York Knicks' season couldn't get any stranger...
The latest news out of Madison Square Garden involves a certain player whose primary contributions during the 2013-14 season have been untying the shoelaces of other players:
Story going online now from @IanBegley & I: ESPN sources say Knicks, challenging as it sounds, have begun exploring J.R. Smith trade options— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 8, 2014
It's a little surprising it took the Knicks this long to get frustrated with J.R. Smith, who has been a constant source of both distraction and poor play since signing an extension with the team during the offseason.
Since returning from his injury/suspension at the start of the year, the 2-guard has averaged 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, shooting 34.8 percent from the field and a lackluster 33.9 percent beyond the arc. Problem is, he's actually taken more triples than two-pointers at this stage of the season.
And it's not like we're working with a small sample size, as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year has suited up 29 times heading into the Knicks' nationally televised Jan. 9 contest against the Miami Heat.
So New York has finally had enough of the mercurial shooting guard. No surprises there.
Mike Woodson, per ESPN's Ian Begley and Marc Stein, responded to Smith's latest shoelace stunt by saying, "Something's gotta be done. It has to stop. I'll address it tomorrow when I see him, and then we'll go from there."
Apparently, this is the 'something" that must be done. And that's not surprising.
*screams from the mountaintop* "ANYONE WANT THIS GUY JR SMITH?" *crickets* *sound of leaves* *drop of water echoing from far away*— netw3rk (@netw3rk) January 8, 2014
Trading JR Smith will be easy as piloting James Dolan’s ego through tsunami-esque conditions while bound, gagged & blindfolded for #Knicks.— Dan Favale (@danfavale) January 8, 2014
Good luck trading a player with this much baggage, especially on a contract that runs through the end of the 2015-16 season. It's not like Smith is going to turn down his player option that year, as it pays him $6,399,750, according to ShamSports.com, and he might need that money to pay fines if he keeps messing with other players' shoes.
Knicks: "We'll trade you JR Smith." Other team: "Um, I guess we'll give you a pair of shoe laces for him."— Robin Lundberg (@robinlundberg) January 8, 2014
To their credit, the Knicks do seem to understand the potential futility of their current mission. According to Begley and Stein, there are additional hurdles even if the Knicks find a trade partner:
Due to the nature of his contract, Smith cannot be traded prior to January 15. The Knicks, furthermore, privately acknowledge that it will be difficult in the current climate to trade Smith, who has two seasons left after this one on a three-year, $18 million contract.
Should the Knicks trade Smith?
Fortunately, the Knicks have gotten a lot of practice attempting difficult things throughout the 2013-14 season.
Like trying to win games, for example.
While it's undoubtedly a positive that the Knicks are even trying to shop Smith, there's no guarantee that these rumors develop into anything more substantial. You know, like something that involves another team.
But hey, kudos to them for the effort!