The Benefit of Acquiring J.R. Smith

According to various reports, the Knicks have acquired former Nuggets and Hornets swingman J.R Smith. It is believed that Smith will sign for a pro-rated amount of the mini mid-level exception, which is 2.5 million dollars.

Smith has spent the season playing for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in the Chinese Basketball Association. Smith averaged 34.2 points in 32 games for the Golden Bulls. He was one of the few NBA players, along with former Knick Wilson Chandler, that went to China to play during the NBA lockout. Unlike NBA players that played in other countries, players that signed in China were unable to come back to the NBA until their seasons were over in China.

Much has been made about Smith’s behavioral issues that have surfaced throughout his professional career. In spite of those issues, which are legitimate reasons to be concerned about, I think the Smith signing will work out for the Knicks. I think the motivation for playing for a long-term contract will provide Smith with an added incentive to behave while he is a New York Knick.

The addition of Smith will benefit the Knicks in a myriad of ways.

First, the Knicks will get much needed help from behind the 3-point line. Currently, the Knicks are 26th in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage (.303). What makes that percentage more alarming is the fact that the Knicks are 3rd in the NBA in 3-point attempts per game (22.5). Adding Smith, a career .370 shooter from 3, will bolster a glaring weakness for this Knicks team. With the presence of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, along with the emergence of Jeremy Lin, there will be plenty of opportunities for Smith to show his aptitude for knocking down three-point shots.

Secondly, the acquisition of Smith provides Coach D’Antoni with more flexibility with his lineups. Due to the various injuries and ineffectiveness of certain players in the rotation, D’Antoni has been somewhat constrained in the variation of lineups that he could put on the floor. With the addition of Smith, it is possible that we might see more opportunities where Anthony gets time at the power forward spot, while Stoudemire plays at the center spot. Acquiring Smith will also allow for Landry Fields to get more time at his more natural position, small forward. This added depth is a necessity in this lockout-shortened season, as many teams, including the Knicks have had to deal with various injuries throughout the season thus far. The more options D’Antoni has available to him, the more lineups he will be able to put out on the court to maximize production and keep players fresh for the playoffs.

J.R. Smith will bolster a bench that has struggled to produce offensively throughout this season. Currently, the Knicks’ bench is producing 26.1 points per game on .399 shooting from the field and .324 shooting from 3-point range. Last season, Smith was 6th in Player Efficiency Rating for all bench players (16.4). That number is higher than all of the Knick guards this season excluding Jeremy Lin (24.2). His ability to create offense is a valuable asset to a team that has struggled to score at various points throughout the season. In an ideal world, the Knicks would look for Smith to contribute 20-25 minutes a game off the bench, and to hit the open 3’s that the Knick guards have been missing all season long. The addition of J.R. Smith will mean less minutes for Bill Walker, and most likely Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert.

While Smith is known almost exclusively for his offensive exploits, J.R. has improved considerably in other facets of the game. Last season, Smith finished 4th in all guards in Total Rebounding Percentage (9.4%), and was tied for 16th in Defensive Rating amongst guards (106).

This move is a low-risk, high-reward proposition for the Knicks. If Smith produces, it will provide the Knicks with much needed depth. If he becomes a distraction to the team, the team can simply waive him with no future ramifications on the salary cap.

In order to sign Smith, the Knicks will be forced to cut one of the players currently on the roster. The most likely candidates are either guard Mike Bibby or forward Renardo Balkman. While Balkman would be the obvious choice, releasing Balkman would put the Knicks on the hook for the rest of Balkman’s salary this season, along with next season.

Now, all that’s left is for Baron Davis to get healthy!

Tyson Chandler to the Knicks?

Even though free agency is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 2 pm, the first bombshell of the offseason dropped this afternoon, and it involved the New York Knicks.

According to various sources, the New York Knicks are the leaders to sign Dallas Mavericks free agent center Tyson Chandler. The Knicks are looking to sign him to a 4 year deal believed to be worth around 14-15 million per year. Supposedly, Chandler turned down a 4 year, 60 million dollars deal from the Golden State Warriors.

How the Knicks will be able to sign Chandler with all their cap room tied up on Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Chauncey Billups? New York can work out a S&T deal with the Mavericks (and perhaps a third team) that will send Chauncey Billups in exchange for the rights to Chandler. Or they can use the amnesty exception on Billups which would give the Knicks around 12 million dollars in cap room to sign Chandler. If the team needs more cap room, they can send Turiaf to a team under the cap to free up another 4 million. That would give the Knicks around 16 million dollars to work with on signing Chandler.

A move like this might signal that the Knicks front office realizes that it would be unlikely to acquire Chris Paul this offseason. One has to wonder who the true architect of this deal is, given the front office contains Glen Grunwald and Mark Warkentien (and of course the spectre of Donnie Walsh remains as well).

Should the deal go through, acquiring Tyson Chandler would fit an obvious need for the team, as it provides a major defensive force behind Melo and Amare. The Knicks would be getting a player who was the backbone of the Mavericks’ NBA title team. Chandler led the NBA last season in True Shooting Percentage (.697), and Offensive Rating (131.0). Chandler was also among the league leaders in Offensive Rebounding Percentage (12.2%), Defensive Rebounding Percentage (26.6%), Total Rebounding Percentage (19.7%), and Defensive Rating (101.6). The downside is that Chandler has been injury-prone recently, failing to play 52 games in 2 of his last 3 seasons.

Additionally the move would leave the Knicks with the passing challenged Toney Douglas and the unproven rookie Iman Shumpert manning the point. New York could theoretically trade either Carmelo or Amar’e for Chris Paul, grab another point guard in free agency (perhaps with their mid-level), or wait until 2012 and hope for Steve Nash to come at a discount.

At this time nothing is official yet, and even if this goes through, the Knicks would still need to address some other issues in free agency. But if the deal does go through, New York would be filling their biggest need.

Knicks 2012 Schedule

Today, the NBA released the official 2012 NBA schedule. It will start with the Knicks facing the Celtics at the Garden on Christmas Day, and will end with a trip to Charlotte on April 26.

December Opponent Time Nat TV
Sat 17 @ New Jersey Preseason 2:00pm
Wed 21 vs New Jersey Preseason 7:30pm
Sun 25 vs Boston 12:00pm TNT
Wed 28 @ Golden State 10:30pm NBATV
Thu 29 @ LA Lakers 10:30pm TNT
Sat 31 @ Sacramento 8:00pm
January Opponent Time Nat TV
Mon 02 vs Toronto 7:30pm
Wed 04 vs Charlotte 7:30pm
Fri 06 @ Washington 7:00pm
Sat 07 @ Detroit 7:30pm
Mon 09 vs Charlotte 7:30pm NBATV
Wed 11 vs Philadelphia 7:30pm
Thu 12 @ Memphis 8:00pm TNT
Sat 14 @ Oklahoma City 8:00pm
Mon 16 vs Orlando 1:00pm
Wed 18 vs Phoenix 7:30pm
Fri 20 vs Milwaukee 7:30pm
Sat 21 vs Denver 7:30pm NBATV
Tue 24 @ Charlotte 7:00pm
Wed 25 @ Cleveland 7:00pm
Fri 27 @ Miami 8:00pm ESPN
Sat 28 @ Houston 8:00pm
Tue 31 vs Detroit 7:30pm
February Opponent Time Nat TV
Thu 02 vs Chicago 8:00pm TNT
Fri 03 @ Boston 8:00pm ESPN
Sat 04 vs New Jersey 7:30pm
Mon 06 vs Utah 7:30pm NBATV
Wed 08 @ Washington 7:00pm NBATV
Fri 10 vs LA Lakers 8:00pm ESPN
Sat 11 @ Minnesota 8:00pm
Tue 14 @ Toronto 7:00pm
Wed 15 vs Sacramento 7:30pm
Fri 17 vs New Orleans 8:00pm ESPN
Sun 19 vs Dallas 1:00pm ABC
Mon 20 vs New Jersey 7:30pm
Wed 22 vs Atlanta 7:30pm
Thu 23 @ Miami 7:00pm TNT
Wed 29 vs Cleveland 7:30pm
March Opponent Time Nat TV
Sun 04 @ Boston 1:00pm ABC
Tue 06 @ Dallas 8:30pm
Wed 07 @ San Antonio 8:30pm
Fri 09 @ Milwaukee 8:30pm
Sun 11 vs Philadelphia 12:00pm
Mon 12 @ Chicago 8:00pm ESPN
Wed 14 vs Portland 7:30pm
Fri 16 vs Indiana 7:30pm
Sat 17 @ Indiana 7:00pm
Tue 20 vs Toronto 7:30pm
Wed 21 @ Philadelphia 7:00pm ESPN
Fri 23 @ Toronto 7:00pm
Sat 24 vs Detroit 7:30pm
Mon 26 vs Milwaukee 7:30pm
Wed 28 vs Orlando 7:00pm ESPN
Fri 30 @ Atlanta 7:30pm
Sat 31 vs Cleveland 7:30pm
April Opponent Time Nat TV
Tue 03 @ Indiana 7:00pm
Thu 05 @ Orlando 7:00pm TNT
Sun 08 vs Chicago 1:00pm ABC
Tue 10 @ Chicago 9:30pm ESPN
Wed 11 @ Milwaukee 8:00pm
Fri 13 vs Washington 7:30pm
Sun 15 vs Miami 1:00pm ABC
Tue 17 vs Boston 8:00pm TNT
Wed 18 @ New Jersey 7:30pm
Fri 20 @ Cleveland 7:30pm
Sun 22 @ Atlanta 1:00pm ESPN
Wed 25 vs LA Clippers 8:00pm ESPN
Thu 26 @ Charlotte 8:00pm TNT

Here’s the link:

  • After hosting the Celtics on Christmas Day, the Knicks will head west for a brutal 3 game West Coast trip versus the Warriors, Lakers, and Kings.
  • There will be no Melo return to Denver this season. However, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mosgov, and maybe Wilson Chandler will return to the Garden on January 21
  • The Knicks will be on national TV 27 times this season. 8 games on TNT, 10 on ESPN, 4 on ABC, and 5 on NBATV.
  • The Knicks will play 19 back to backs on the season, and only 1 back to back to back from February 2 to 4 (Chicago, @Boston, NJ).
  • LeBron and the Heat only come to the Garden once on April 15, while the Knicks will head to Miami twice to play the Heat (January 27, February 23).
  • The Knicks will only play 3 Western Conference teams twice (Lakers, Kings, and Mavericks), as part of each team playing only 18 non-conference games in the shortened season.
  • The Knicks won’t visit the Clippers, Nuggets, Suns, Jazz, Hornets, and Trail Blazers, while the Timberwolves, Spurs, Rockets, Thunder, Grizzlies, and Warriors won’t come to the Garden this season. Which means there will be no chance for Knicks’ fans to see Kevin Durant in person this year.