New York Knicks Must Give JR Smith's Minutes to Tim Hardaway Jr.

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New York Knicks Must Give JR Smith's Minutes to Tim Hardaway Jr.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Of the characters in the horror movie that is this season for the New York Knicks, J.R. Smith may be the most terrifying of all.

From the fiasco with his brother, Chris Smith, to his poor shooting, to his bad attitude, Smith's problems are chasing down the Knicks' success like the maniac from whom you can't get away in the common nightmare scenario. 

The latest issue came in regards to Smith's new facemask. He decided to sit out of New York's last game before the All-Star break because the mask didn't "fit well enough."

Playing without the mask wouldn't work either, as he had a more reliable excuse for why he couldn't do that.

In the first game after the break, Smith went 2-of-8 for four points in 35 minutes. The Knicks lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 98-93, and Smith had more to say about his mask than the loss.

According to the New York Post's Marc Berman, Smith said, "[The mask is] terrible to play with. I’m just going to have to deal with it. As long as I can play, I’d rather wear it."

Now, it's not fair to heap the blame for that loss on Smith. It's not fair to say his postgame attitude is always more about himself then the team. And it's not fair to judge a whole season based on one off night. But it was a game that was really emblematic of Smith's 2013-14 for the Knicks.

On the same night, Tim Hardaway scored 23 points in 24 minutes, shooting 7-of-15 from the field and 4-of-9 from three-point range. 

He's been more efficient all season:

Player PER TS% eFG% FTr 3PAr ORtg WS WS/48
Tim Hardaway 14.3 .579 .553 .178 .519 115 2.4 .100
J.R. Smith 12.0 .494 .479 .169 .469 101 1.4 .045
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2014.

And he's playing 11 fewer minutes per game—21.3 to 32.5.

It's time for Mike Woodson to shake things up. If nothing else, he should be playing the more efficient 2 at least as many minutes as Smith.

After all, the current plan of Smith in the sixth-man role has only contributed to a 21-33 record and a nice cozy spot at No. 11 in the Eastern Conference standings.

The numbers suggest giving Hardaway more responsibility at this point would only help the Knicks. If it doesn't, things can't get much worse. And they'd have a better idea of what Hardaway can do in a bigger role.

Should Tim Hardaway Jr. get J.R. Smith's minutes?

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We may have seen a glimpse of that in a 98-91 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. Hardaway played 36 minutes and scored 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Smith played 40 and scored 19.

And though the elder statesman played well in that game—warding off his younger competition in the meantime—the writing is on the wall.

By playing smarter, Hardaway does more for the Knicks right now than Smith.

And as a team outside the playoff picture looking in, it's time for New York to start gearing toward the future.

21-year-old Tim Hardaway is one of the only promising young assets on the team. And he's earned his chance to end the nightmare.

Unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of and and are current as of Feb. 19, 2014.

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. 

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