So what's been keeping Smith out of the action? Apparently, his request to see more of it.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News has the details behind Smith's latest DNP:
J.R. Smith's benching in Charlotte Tuesday night may have been a direct result of Smith sitting most of the overtime in Monday’s win over Phoenix.
According to a source, Smith was vocal with coach Mike Woodson about not starting the extra session against Phoenix after missing what would have been a game-winning shot at the end of regulation.
All of that for a crunch-time failure?
Who was there to bench Woodson when the coach failed to call a timeout during the final seconds of a crushing home loss to the Washington Wizards on Dec. 16? Where was the punishment for what ESPN New York deemed that "fireable offense"?
Well, there may have been more to this story. After spilling some more bad blood on Monday, Smith reportedly got a tardy start to his Tuesday:
And he's allegedly still stewing over the very defensible, but assuredly awkward release of his brother Chris:
Woodson declined comment on the latest benching, but an assistant said it had more to do with Smith's teammates than the reigning Sixth Man of the Year himself:
That almost sounds believable. But Tim Hardaway Jr.'s 4-of-10, 12-point performance doesn't exactly qualify as a hot hand even on this punch-less offense.
But, as is seemingly the case with everything around this franchise, this might be bigger than basketball. Smith's on-court work is bad (11.4 points on 35.7 percent shooting), but he seems even more lost away from the hardwood:
As for Smith, well, he's not saying much:
Other than the fact that he, like the rest of us, has no idea what's going on inside this organization:
There is no easy fix for this relationship. Between Smith's reputation, declining production, recent contract extension and offseason knee surgery, he's New York's problem to figure out.
So stories like this, bizarre as they may seem, are likely to be the norm for the Knicks. This has potential to get a lot worse before it ever gets any better.