The Knicks are reportedly exploring trades for mercurial guard J.R.
Smith, but there may be a problem. Smith's value is at an all-time low following off-season knee surgery, a poor season thus far, and on-going maturity issues. The trade talk may be a public tactic to scare Smith straight. He is still in the first-year of a three-year deal signed this summer, worth about $18 million.
Sources close to the situation said Wednesday that the organization has become increasingly frustrated with Smith's on- and off-the-court transgressions and may feel that a fresh start would be best for all parties. Smith was fined $50,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for "recurring instances of unsportsmanlike conduct" following his shoelace stunts in the Knicks' past two games.
Wednesday's fine didn't necessarily push the Knicks over the top, but one source with knowledge of the team's thinking said the organization has become "fed up" with Smith's erratic behavior. Coach Mike Woodson hinted at that frustration Wednesday when he called Smith's conduct "unacceptable" in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco 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," Woodson said. "It's just got to stop. I keep saying this every time something pops up, but it's got to stop."
Image via: Howard Simmons/New York Daily News