Current Chinese Basketball Association star and long-time NBA paradox, J.R. Smith, has more raw talent than almost any other player in professional basketball. The problem is, this raw talent also comes along with a raw attitude which has rubbed many coaches and NBA executives the wrong way.
According to recent reports, two teams are in pursuit of the flashy wing man, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the resurgent New York Knicks.
The Clippers have been explosive and fun to watch so far in the 2011-2012 season, tagged with the nickname “Lob City” for the high-flying exhibitions they put on night in and night out. The Knicks are at the crest of a seven-game win streak, due to the solid performances from new media darling Jeremy Lin.
Where J.R. Smith lands in coming weeks could change the landscape and team dynamic for one of these two teams.
In Los Angeles, Smith would join a cast of players who play a very similar, athletic and dynamic style. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are all about highlight reel passes and dunks, and J.R. Smith loves nothing more. This is the most natural, and reasonable fit for Smith and his temperament.
Adding J.R. Smith to the Knicks roster would be an instant disaster and equal the end of “Linsanity” as we know it.
J.R. Smith will demand a certain number of shots no matter with whom he plays. To this point, both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudamire have expressed a willingness to share with Jeremy Lin and work off of him. It’s hard to believe that the self-centered Smith would do the same.
J.R. Smith is about J.R. Smith– several coaches in the NBA would tell you the same. Don’t believe me– just ask George Karl. He’d be happy to bend your ear for a few minutes.
Jeremy Lin is successful because he makes his teammates better. They work with him and therefore opportunities are created. J.R. Smith works to create shots for himself first and help his teammates on the backside.
This is a chemistry disaster waiting to happen.
In short, if the New York Knicks are haphazard enough to add J.R. Smith to their roster when he becomes available from the CBA, trouble is being invited. There’s a reason why J.R. Smith has never been able to “stick” with an NBA team.
Selfishness and a “me-first” attitude is not the way to a coach’s heart.