May 18, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith (8) reacts to losing to the Indiana Pacers in game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats New York 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks Rumors: Did Knicks make a mistake by signing J.R. Smith?


The New York Knicks have been notorious over the course of the past decade-plus for handing out bad contract after bad contract. Some of that explains the horrible financial situation that the Knicks are often in as it pertains to the salary cap.

Yet on the same day that the Knicks upgraded on the wing by signing former Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace to a two-year deal, the team announced hours later that reigning Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith would miss the next 12-16 weeks following knee surgery.

That alone begs the question of whether or not the Knicks made yet another mistake by officially inking Smith to a four-year deal just days prior?

While the surgery alone to repair his patella tendon and an arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee isn’t considered major, the Knicks statement regarding the surgery is baffling.

According to the Knicks official Twitter feed, the team knew about Smith’s injuries prior to re-signing him and called his injuries chronic and gradually worsened.

May 16, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers in game 5 of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffsat Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 85-75. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Yet they give him a four-year deal?

That’s the definition of damaged goods.

I’m not suggesting that the team shouldn’t have signed Smith, but to give him a four-year deal is a bit ludicrous, especially when the team knew he had knee problems.

They had all the leverage in this situation and failed to use it.

You can make the case that the Smith contract was a bad one before the surgery, but now you really have to question the Knicks thinking here.

While Smith does bring some scoring off the bench and is coming off a career year last season, averaging 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals in 33.5 minutes per contest off the bench., there is also a lot to illustrate that Smith isn’t worth of a long-term deal.

First you have to ask if the Knicks can truly win with Smith playing in Mike Woodson’s system.

As my colleague Frank Diglio illustrated last week, that even while Smith’s numbers looked good, he was far from efficient, posting only his fifth best career season when looking at his Per 36 minute averages.

In addition, the Knicks offense put up 112.0 points per 48 minutes and 112.7 per 48 minutes when he was on the bench, which leads you to question how valuable he truly is to this Knicks team.

Then there is his career playoff performance, which leads you to believe that this wasn’t the smartest move from the Knicks.

For his career Smith shoots 39 percent from the field and 31 percent from three. His WS/48 (win shares per 48 minutes) get cut in half from .096 to .043 in the playoffs and his PER is that of a below average NBA player (13.2, average is 15).

When the playoffs begin, too much isolation isn’t a good thing. That’s Smith’s game and we saw this past postseason once again that it wasn’t effective.

I’m not hating on Smith getting a new contract. With the season he put up, he was going to get money from someone. But he has a lot to prove despite winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award last season. Can anyone honestly say that three years from now that his antics both on and off the floor won’t have worn thin and he won’t be considered a realistic part of the future?

You have to be convinced that the Knicks can win with a guy like Smith and so far the answer is they can’t. I hope Smith comes out and proves that the opposite is true, but it still doesn’t excuse the organization from handing out another bad contract.

The problem here is the Knicks foolishly handing out a four-year deal to a guy who they knew would be heading for knee surgery, which could prevent him from being ready for the beginning of the season.

That’s just not smart.

Well run organizations don’t make moves like that.

Hopefully this won’t turn out to be another deal that comes back to bite the Knicks in the behind like so many others have in the past.

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Tags: J.R. Smith NBA Free Agency New York Knicks New York Knicks Rumors

  • Stan

    Smith’s surgery isn’t major surgery. And chronic and worsening would describe it until the point of surgery. Until we hear/see how he is post surgery will tell if this was a bad contract or not. Knicks front office and their medical staff likely believes that he able to perform to the level that his contract suggests. Also the Knicks needed someone to be a second option behind Anthony and Smith was it since we had his early Bird rights we could sign him and still go over the cap. So even if it was not a good signing it was more or less necessary

    • shet

      Agree with all of that Stan but my point here is that you give an unknown situation a 4 year deal that you are locked into. By signing him to a 2 year extension they would have been able to gain his Full Bird Rights after that. Would make much more sense to re-evaluate after 2 years when you will have cap room whether or not this is a guy you want to move forward with.

      I’m not necessarily arguing the fact that they had to sign Smith as much as not doing their homework with everything involved.

      • Stan

        I agree with the 4 years being a reach also. 2 years would have been much better. Especially with all the contracts (Stoudemire, Bargnani, Chandler, Anthony coming off the books around then. My only thought on that would be that wanted to lock Smith at the price they are getting him for without a big raise down the line that could cut into thier manuvering room to resign Anthony and other free agents

        • Yoshi

          I have to agree with Stan I don’t see much a concern and they got him for cheap if he continues to perform as he did last year

  • sam

    Knick management is awful and has been for as long as the Dolans have been owning. They’ve had every opportunity to start over and rebuild, yet they keep signing retreads and head cases trying to squeeze out one championship before they finally have nothing left to rebuild with. Sad to say the Yankees are doing the same thing at the moment.

    • Stan

      Just read an update that the contract is for 2 years with a player option for a 3rd. Now I am no longer sure what to believe. LOL. If its 2 years with a player option then the Knicks did very well. If they got him for 4 then as I said earlier it was necessary.