Yesterday the New York Knicks trimmed their roster and there were plenty of surprises. The team announced the predicted cutting of Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Roberts is a solid offensive player but with six guards guaranteed, Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Beno Udrih, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert and the emergence of Toure Murry, the numbers were not there for this talented young man.
The shocker of the day is that for now, Chris Smith has made the team. The question is did he earn a spot?
The answer an emphatic, NO.
I loved the honesty of Knicks coach Mike Woodson, when he said earlier this week that Smith’s relationship with his older brother will factor into whether the team keeps Smith on the 15-man roster.
“I look at him just like I look at J.R., though J.R. is the guy who played in a uniform and has been very productive for us,” Woodson said. “I have a great deal of respect for that family. That’s his brother, I respect that.”
The younger Smith is actually a good young man. He played for legendary coach Rick Pitino at Louisville. Good kid, good program, but a deserved spot? An emphatic NO.
I watched Chris in Vegas against lessor competition and he played hard but never excelled. He does not possess the same offensive arsenal as his brother. He is also at best an average shooter. He would be better revved mentally and physically in the D-League where I am willing to bet, is where he will be the majority of the season. With Smith the Knicks have eight guards for only two playing spots. It make you wonder if promises were made to get J.R., to sign.
Ian Begley of ESPN reported, Chris Smith on being JR’s brother: “Did it help me? Of course.” But Chris adds: “I feel like I earned my position on the team.”
An added layer to the team’s decision to keep Smith may be his ties to CAA.
CAA represents both Chris and J.R. and has close ties to the Knicks, James Dolan, Woodson and Carmelo Anthony. The question then is CAA, the Knicks new GM?
Smith did not earn this spot, which sends a strong message around the NBA, as real players know the real story. He is just not NBA ready. And 8 guards for 15 spots?
Murry on the other hand was solid during Vegas, but improved enough over the summer for coaches to acknowledge this young guard, who can play either guard position and may be the best defender of all current point guards.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported, “Smith is expected to spend much of the season getting playing time in the D-League. When (Jeremy) Tyler is healthy enough to return, the Knicks could choose to cut (Cole) Aldrich or Chris Smith, whose $470,000 contract becomes guaranteed on opening night. When Smith hired his brother’s agent, CAA’s Leon Rose, in the spring, The Post reported the brothers’ free agency was seen in some league circles as a “package deal.”
The shame of Chris’s addition to the Knicks roster was the subtraction of both Ike Diogu and Jeremy Tyler. As Tyler is injured and is not anticipated to return to late November, once he clears waivers the Knicks can hopefully sign him to. D-League contract. He reminds me of a young Charles Oakley. He is not only talented, he is tough and spirited. Woodson also hinted in recent days the team would keep Tyler. So it’s also a bit surprising that the 22-year-old big man was released. I hope they find a way to bring him back.
Berman also reported: “Tyler’s agent, John Baker, said he hopes Tyler will rehab his foot at the Knicks’ facilities and remain in play to rejoin the roster. Tyler would not be allowed to work out with the team and could sign with another team at any time. According to a source, however, there is a road block to be cleared before Tyler can be permitted to rehab with the Knicks: His D-League rights are owned by the Santa Cruz franchise. It is believed the Knicks will be able to work something out. Chris Smith rehabbed with the Knicks last season after tearing his patella tendon and being cut.”
Diogu was the surprise of preseason and in my eyes earned a roster spot. With the age and fragile bodies of Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin, he would have been a welcome addition.
Cole Aldrich as I reported earlier is a big body who does the little things. In the last game against the Bucks, he had eight rebounds in 14 minutes, and was a plus-20, versus Andrea Bargnani who had one rebound in 25 minutes and was a minus-25.
Am I saying he is a better player than Bargnani? Of course not, but Bargnani is not a center and will fail when played there. He is a wing player. Keeping Aldrich was a smart play, he is young and under Woodson will continue to develop and against bigger centers he can give Tyson Chandler a breather.
With the weekend and final cuts ahead the Knicks can still waive Smith, Murry or Aldrich if they choose as final regular-season rosters aren’t due until Monday at 5 p.m. ET.
The Knicks signed both Tyler and C.J. Leslie to partially-guaranteed contracts in the offseason. So New York will have to pay Tyler $100,000 and Leslie $200,000 in guaranteed money even though they’ve been waived. Leslie, if he clears waivers can be added to the Knicks D-League affiliate. This is a young athletic talent with far more potential then Chris Smith. He needs to continue to develop his outside shot. If he does he has the innate talent to play in the NBA.
Much can happen between tonight and Wednesday, I’ll keep you posted.
Dr. Kaplan is a Best Selling author, www.5minutemotivator.com–you can follow Dr. Kaplan on twitter@drekaplan