Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
J.R. Smith's stock has dropped. The general consensus around the league is concern.
He was expected to be on the pathway to maturity this year but still appears in search of it. By the start of the 2011-2012 season he's already behind on most GMs' calendars by at least a full year.
He's still the shot-happy, me-first player that he has always been and he's failed to produce the way that George Karl would like. His inconsistency has been the most consistent part of his game despite shooting better from the field than he did last year.
But he's a kid, turning 26-years-old in September.
With all his problematic behavior and poor shot selection, nobody doubts that Smith has the potential to play, at times, some serious basketball where he elevates his game to unconscious mode and wows spectators with unending highlights.
Unfortunately for him and any coach asked to oversee him, Smith has two personalities. It is the absentminded and selfish Smith that dominates most games, while it is alter-ego--a superstar in the waiting--that emerges on occasion.
Let's go on a limb, a thin and lengthy limb.
The Boston Celtics have a soft spot for problematic egos who can play basketball and offer unique services.
Shaquille O'Neal is unfortunately more known for his off-the-court antics than his game anymore. Delonte West believes himself to be Antonio Banderas from Desperado. And Nate Robinson, recently traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, was benched by Knicks coach and liberalist Mike D'Antoni for poor decisions but somehow found minutes with the C's in same season.
If Nate Robinson can be benched by D'Antoni during the regular year but find crucial minutes in the NBA Finals with Doc Rivers in a period of months, J.R. Smith will do just fine.
What makes the Celtics so unique is that Rivers only has to deal with the X's and O's of basketball. The personalities that dominate his locker room are basketball-oriented individuals that won't deal with whatever George Karl has had to deal with in Denver.
This could also be the wake-up call (or final snooze) for Smith to grow up and display the alter-ego more regularly.