5 NBA Teams That Would Be Best Potential Fit for J.R. Smith Trade
Apparently, they've drawn the line at untying opponents' shoes.
Per Marc Stein and Ian Begley of ESPN, the Knicks are finally fed up with Smith's behavior and are seeking suckers trade partners for their 28-year-old footwear sabotage artist: "While they acknowledge that a trade may be difficult to pull off, the New York Knicks in recent days began exploring the potential market for guard J.R. Smith."
As the foregoing snippet proves, you can't start any discussion about trading Smith without first mentioning how insanely difficult such an undertaking will be. Thanks to the Knicks' stupidity/generosity, Smith is in the first season of a brand new three-year, $18 million deal.
He's also shooting a career-low 34.8 percent from the field and has stopped trying to get to the foul line. He has had some success in firing off ill-advised shots at critical times, though. So there's that.
As you can imagine, there's not a line forming of NBA teams in search of a historically uncontrollable, overpaid, disengaged shooting guard who can't shoot.
Still, there's hope for everyone—implausible as that may sound for a cause so seemingly lost as Smith.
Here's a rundown of potential landing spots on the off chance that New York can find a taker.
Note: Smith cannot be traded before Jan. 15, per Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.
The Detroit Pistons already have a glut of backcourt options that includes Brandon Jennings, Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. But as was widely suspected when this team came together over the summer, there hasn't been sufficient spacing for a decent offense to function.
That's on the guards, who have all struggled mightily to knock down perimeter shots at a consistent clip.
Now, nobody's making the case for Smith as a "consistent" shooter, but we've seen him hit plenty of threes when he's been able to get his feet set in the past. The Knicks lack the post presence to facilitate an inside-out attack that would allow for clean spot-up looks, but maybe the Pistons would be a better fit.
Detroit has the bigs to attract attention down low, which could lead to open shots from long range. Actually, said bigs do that now, but none of the Pistons' guards can take advantage from the outside.
Unlike the Knicks, the Pistons are actually in playoff position right now. Maybe a little offensive boost could keep them there.
This would be the Knicks' dream scenario.
Giving Smith back to the team from whence he came, perhaps in a heavily sweetened deal to land disgruntled Denver Nuggets point guard Andre Miller, would be the best of both worlds.
New York doesn't have much in the way of picks to toss into such a deal, but Denver is definitely looking to move Miller. So perhaps the Nuggets would be motivated to get something done.
Denver does need a better shooting guard than Randy Foye if it's serious about making a push for the postseason. If Smith gets his head on straight, he's a much more dynamic threat than anybody the Nuggets currently employ at the 2.
Plus, Denver's front office has changed since Smith was last there, which takes this deal from "impossible" to "highly unlikely," a significant rung higher on the plausibility ladder.
Oh, and marijuana's legal in Colorado now. So I think we know where Smith would prefer to land if he had any say in the matter.
You know, because the fans at the Pepsi Center will be more docile, content and laid back when he takes a bad shot or turns the ball over.
What did you think I meant?
I'll admit, this suggestion is almost solely motivated by a desire to see DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Smith on the same team.
Would "Shaqtin' a Fool" have to set up a field office in Sacramento? Probably so.
According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the Sacramento Kings are offering either Marcus Thornton or Jimmer Fredette to the Nuggets for Miller. Maybe they'd be willing to give up one or the other (and another contract to make the deal work under the CBA) for Smith and whatever picks New York could scrape together.
Clearly, the Kings aren't afraid of chuckers. And their constant involvement in trade discussions proves they're eager to make splashes now as the organization tries to put together an exciting product that might help sell tickets at a new arena.
For comedy's sake alone, let's all hope this happens.
Los Angeles Clippers
It's hard to make the case for why the Los Angeles Clippers might be interested in Smith. Frankly, they already have Jamal Crawford, who does almost everything Smith can do, only better.
Really, this option is the one that could serve Smith best, which is why it's included here.
The Clippers have the perfect ingredients to keep Smith under control off the floor while simultaneously getting the most out of him on it.
Doc Rivers commands his players' respect through an authoritative presence, a no-nonsense approach and the clout his championship ring carries. Mike Woodson, while a solid guy and a half-decent coach, either can't or won't exercise control over his goofy guard.
Per Stein and Begley, Woodson had this to say on Stephen A. Smith's ESPN New York 98.7 radio show: "I'm not happy about this, because he was warned, he comes back and he makes the same mistake, and it's not right. It's just got to stop. I keep saying this every time something pops up, but it's got to stop."
I get the feeling Rivers would only have to tell Smith to shape up once.
Plus, Chris Paul (when he returns from his shoulder injury in a few weeks) could completely control how Smith functions on the court. CP3 is a legitimate leader and an offensive dictator. He could determine when and where Smith's touches came, which is key because Smith actually has offensive value if he's part of a strict system.
A free-for-all approach like the one in New York allows Smith to run wild. CP3 could rein him in.
Think of the Charlotte Bobcats as a watered-down version of the Clippers. They've got a coach in Steve Clifford whose "no B.S." edict mirrors that of Rivers, and Kemba Walker is one of the few NBA players who dominates the ball as totally as Paul does.
The difference here is that Smith's skills wouldn't be duplicative.
As a guy who's been a solid spot-up threat in the past, Smith could provide Charlotte the offensive spark it desperately needs. Right now, the 'Cats are getting by on defense alone, and adding Smith could bring some balance to the other end of the court.
Maybe Charlotte would be willing to part with a package that includes Bismack Biyombo, whose minutes are down significantly this year. Or, if the Knicks add enough sweeteners, perhaps the expiring Ramon Sessions could be had.
Before you scoff at the Bobcats giving up an expiring deal, keep in mind that they also have Ben Gordon and his $13 million contract coming off the books next year. So even if they take on Smith's three-year deal, they'll still have plenty of open cap space this summer and their long-term plans won't be drastically different.
Plus, it's been a while since the Bobcats did something really stupid. They're due.