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SHOOTING GUARD J.R. SMITH COULD DECIDE TO PLAY WITH THE KNICKS FOR HIS RETURN TO THE NBA
Tue, 21 Feb 2012 11:19 AM EST

Not long ago, the NY Knicks had plenty of query marks. Now it appears they’re making a juggernaut.

Shooting guard J.R. Smith has decided to join Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and phenomenon Jeremy Lin in New York Knicks. Baseball spreads

J.R, who played last season with the Denver Nuggets, had listed the Knicks, Clippers, Lakers, Magic, Bulls and Pacers as teams he was considering joining after a stint in China that started during the NBA lockout.

Smith was ineligible to come back to the NBA from China till his team’s season was completed there. The Knicks can’t achieve a contract with him till his comeback is cleared by FIBA; basketball’s world ruling body, but a source with direct awareness of the circumstance announces Smith has been cleared.

The deal conditions were not available, but the New York Knicks were able to offer Smith a pro-rated share of their $2.5 million mini mid-level exception and a player opportunity for a 2nd year. Baseball odds

To clear a list spot for Smith, it would seem the Knicks have released seldom-used forward Renaldo Balkman.

This was Balkman’s 2nd stint with the NY Knicks. He was initially a 1st-round pick of NY in 2006 and was traded to the Nuggets in 2008. He came back in the deal for Anthony last season.

The Clippers, in the meantime, could offer Smith only the veteran’s minimum for the rest of this season.

Smith is a previous teammate of Anthony’s in Denver. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 2010-11, shooting 39 % from 3-point range. He has averaged 12.5 points per game during his 7-year career.

Coach Mike D’Antoni said he hadn’t yet considered how to find minutes for Smith on a Knicks team with Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert getting important playing time at shooting guard.

“We’ll see, but that’ll be a hurdle we will get over,” D’Antoni recounted after Friday’s shootaround. “Clearly, he’s a talented basketball player and it’s usually possible to use talent. But fundamentally it is not going to change up a whole lot what we’re doing.”

The coach accepted that Fields would continue to start at shooting guard “for right now.”

The Knicks have struggled with perimeter shooting for much of the season. They enter play Friday ranked 20th in field aim % (43 %) and 26th in 3-point field objective percentage (30 %).

They’re wishing that Smith, a career 37 percent 3-point shooter, will help.

Smith started his career straight out of school, taking drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2004. In 2006, he was traded, together with P.J. Brown, to the Bulls for latest Knicks center Tyson Chandler.

The Chicago Bulls, though, shipped him to Denver 6 days later for Howard Eisley and draft picks.

There have been fears regarding Smith’s approach. In December 2006, he was concerned in an altercation between the Knicks and Nuggets at the Garden. It was the worst fight in the NBA since the legendary brawl in Detroit between the Pistons and Pacers two 2 before.

For their parts in the Garden brawl, Smith and Anthony were suspended 10 and 15 games, appropriately.


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