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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jason Smith: A Knicksplainer

Photo by Chase Thomas

Photo by Chase Thomas

Yesterday, the Knicks signed former New Orleans Pelicans big man Jason Smith to a one-year, $3.3 million contract using their taxpayer mid-level exception. Smith has long been a useful player, but has battled injuries throughout his career. A knee injury wiped out his 2008-2009 season entirely and he’s played just 122 games over the past three seasons.

Having said that, given the wages some folks are netting, he’s worth taking a flyer on for a year at that price. At the very least, Smith is going to play decent defense and help to protect the rim. The Knicks fatal flaw last season was their inability to stop opposing teams, and he should help there. Offensively, his good mid-range jumper should make him a workable fit in the Triangle Offense.

If I was coaching–and I’m not, obviously–Smith would be the guy I play next to Stoudemire. Unlike Bargnani, Stoudemire does serve a purpose in the Triangle. He’s the only Knick besides Carmelo who can consistently get you a basket in the low-post. But he’s so bad defensively that he needs to play alongside a center who can compensate for at least some of his deficiencies.

Enter Smith. He isn’t amazing on defense, but he’s solid enough. And he’s an okay enough defensive rebounder to where teams wouldn’t consistently be getting put-backs on account of Stoudemire’s lapses. Offensively, I really like the fit with them playing together. One of the hallmarks of the Triangle is how it creates high percentage looks off double-teams. For all his faults, Stoudemire is a strong post player who will probably draw an extra defender in certain situations.

Assuming he’s willing to pass out of it —and after last season, that might be a big assumption–Smith fits in nicely as his front court mate who can hit mid-range jumpers off the catch at a relatively high percentage. Of course, it’d be more useful to have a big who would be able to space out at the three point line, but that isn’t the kind of offense the Knicks are going to be running.

Smith should compete for a rotation spot right away. Because the Knicks will be using an offense that historically has featured two big men, there may be minutes for Smith at power forward. His aforementioned mid-range prowess will allow him to play with guys like Cole Aldrich or Sam Dalembert and still maintain workable spacing on offense. His versatility to play both spots probably alleviates any need for Andrea Bargnani to step on the court.

Phil Jackson’s offseason has been a good one, I’d say. His hands have been tied in terms of what he can do, but he’s still found ways to add pieces that fit the scheme he wants Derek Fisher to implement. Smith definitely works in that regard and having him on a one-year deal protects the Knicks in the event that he gets injured again.

There has been speculation about the Knicks maybe pursuing Shawn Marion, but with Cleanthony Early playing well in summer league and poised to grab a rotation spot, it probably makes more sense to shore up the front court. They could’ve done a lot worse with the taxpayer mid-level than Smith. He’s a useful two-way player, which is exactly what the Knicks need right now.

Competency. This is weird. Going to take a while to get used to it, amirite?

14 comments on “Jason Smith: A Knicksplainer

  1. DRed

    Jason Smith isn’t a good defensive rebounder. He’s not terrible or anything, but he’s below average (my man Cole corrals 26% of DRBs, compared to Smiths 16%). Just like he’s below average at scoring. Dude’s just not a very good player, he’s injury prone, and he’s old enough that he’s not likely to significantly improve. He’s better than Bargs, I guess, and he’s cheap, but he’s a waste of a roster space.

  2. dtrickey

    Interesting signing. I didn’t even know Smith was on our radar, but I like it. Admittedly I haven’t seen a lot of Smith (given injury of course……and not watching many NO games). I wouldn’t say it’s a waste of a roster spot either. Given he’s on a 1 year deal, if it doesn’t work out then we aren’t going to be hamstrung. Plus the general rhetoric that this is a year of minimal expectations, so if it works out then it will be a great move, if not well then we just don’t re-sign him. It seems weird the FO actually going after guys to specifically fit a system and not just whoever is available. What’s that all about? So foreign. Kudos on the bash bros. pic too ha ha

  3. JK47

    I was actually kinda okay with the Smith signing until I heard that Ed Davis signed for 2 years, $2M.

    Now that I know that, fuck this terrible signing.

  4. 2FOR18

    I just saw the news about Ed Davis for 2 years/ 2mil and came here to express my dismay, but I see I was beat to the punch. Hopefully PJ knows what he’s doing; all I know about Smith is that he’s been a good guy to pick up for fantasy bball when A. Davis is hurt.

  5. Mike Kurylo

    He’s a better offensive rebounder (2.7/36) than defensive (5.0). I’d be curious why his TS% was decent 2 & 3 years ago, but has been subpar otherwise. Finding opportunities that get him to the free throw line should help with that.

    Meh. He’s a body.

  6. Farfa

    Yesterday I didn’t mean to pile on Phil Jackson for the signing of Jason Smith, but now I guess we can be sure nobody called Ed Davis’ agent. Are you telling me he would have refused a 6mln/2yrs with a team option? And he’s going to the abysmal Lakers that already have Randle and Jordan Hill (though my guess is that Hill will play the vast majority of his minutes at center, if nothing changes) and still have no coach but very probably will be coached by the super-meh Byron Scott?

    They could’ve done a lot worse with the taxpayer mid-level than Smith. He’s a useful two-way player, which is exactly what the Knicks need right now.

    With all due respect, Taylor, advanced stats vehemently disagree about the “useful player” tag. WS says he is a pretty useless player, while WP says he’a harmful player, given he posted -.013 and -.052 WP48 the last two years. You know who posted a better WP48 than Smith last year? Andrea frigging Bargnani, who went for-.049 WP48. I guess we can all agree that Bargs is maybe a lovable goofy hunk of meat, but surely a pretty harmful player.

  7. The Musing Platypus

    For what it’s worth, Seth over at P&T had heard that Ed Davis has little value around the league because Davis doesn’t give a damn about basketball, and puts in very little effort as a result.

    Maybe Phil just didn’t want to saddle Fisher with another reclamation project right off the bat, seeing as he has enough to deal with as it is.

  8. Loathing

    For what it’s worth, Seth over at P&T had heard that Ed Davis has little value around the league because Davis doesn’t give a damn about basketball, and puts in very little effort as a result.

    Maybe Phil just didn’t want to saddle Fisher with another reclamation project right off the bat, seeing as he has enough to deal with as it is.

    Exactly. Phil doesn’t want anyone there that’s not gonna bust their asses and leave it all on the court.

  9. thenamestsam

    I like Ed Davis a lot better than Jason Smith, but he’s more of a 4 than a 5, and we are still badly in need of warm bodies at the 5. Dalembert is a 20 minute a night guy. Cole, for all of his lovely per minute stats has only a marginally longer track record of NBA success than you or I (seriously, only 1000 minutes for 3 teams across 4 seasons. 7 career games of more than 20 minutes. 7). And speaking only for myself, I’ve had a lifetime fill of Amare or Bargs at the 5, plus they’re both locks to miss time to injury. So I think it’s fair to say that there was a need for a true center, and Ed Davis is thin as a twig. I’m not sure he really fits the mold. Doesn’t make the Smith signing a particularly good one, but Davis isn’t really a natural replacement in my mind.

  10. DRed

    Apparently the Kings are seriously trying to trade for Josh Smith. Speaking of perfect together, the J. Smith/B. Cousins pair is a dream of mine.

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