Knicks Need More Jason Smith

[This was originally meant to be pitched to the New York Post, but I decided to run it here.]

The Knicks have fared as well this November as the Democrats, with both suffering a significant number of losses. And while the Dems will need to wait until 2016 to make some progress, the Knicks could get some immediate gains. New York has an absolute gem on their bench in Jason Smith. And if they use him more, the team will surely turn things around before the season is up.

New York picked Smith off the dump heap this summer with their Mid Level Exception. Jason was originally drafted by the Sixers, before being traded to the Hornets. The 7 foot forward received sporadic playing time with New Orleans in his 4 years there.

Fisher’s confidence in Smith has wavered throughout this young season. Even though he has started 3 times, Smith has seen as few as 6 minutes, and never more than 27. Much like his previous stints, it appears that Jason keeps getting inconsistent playing time.

However if Fisher were to call his number more, Smith’s jump shooting may be a key to mid-season comeback for New York. Of his field goal attempts, only 7% has been from three feet or closer. Smith helps balance the triangle offense by giving New York a real threat from mid-range. If the team gives him more than his current 17.0 minutes per game, Jason Smith’s 7.1 points per game could easily double, and the number of rebounds he pulls down would increase too.

Considering the big men on the Knicks’ bench, namely Quincy Acy and the dreadful Cole Aldrich, it’s a no-brainer to give Smith nearly all of the minutes at the 4 or 5 that aren’t given to Dalembert or Stoudemire.

The Knicks' 2014 Savior!
The Knicks’ 2014 Savior!


OK you alert KnickerBlogger readers still here? Great! Here’s the deal, Jason Smith is absolutely killing this team! OK, he sports a healthy 53.7% TS%, but he’s so deficient in all other areas it doesn’t nearly make up for his other weaknesses. It would be like giving a cupcake to a person suffering from starvation. Sure, they need the calories, but without the nutrients they’re going to die of malnutrition. [I know it’s a bleak analogy, but this has been a dark season for Knick fans. I don’t have a care-free comparison. I tried a Chutes and Ladders one, but that got too wordy. ]

Smith’s most obvious weakness: his atrocious rebounding. How is it possible that someone 7 feet tall with functioning circulatory system pulls down only 4.9 rebounds per 36 minutes? There are only 5 NBA players who were 7 feet tall in the 3 point era that have rebounded as poorly as Smith in as many minutes. Luckily the Knicks have one of these other players on their roster (hint: it’s Bargnani). The Knicks are 29th in defensive rebounding percentage, and Smith has been on the court 35% of the time. Coincidence?

According to, the Knicks are 12.4 points worse per 100 possessions with Smith on the floor. That number is the worst on the team. New York’s defense is -10.2 points when Jason plays. Again, he is worst on the team in this stat. So any chance that his “hard nosed defense” is a benefit to the team is laughable.

All said, more Jason Smith is good for this team. They do have their own pick in the upcoming draft.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

32 thoughts to “Knicks Need More Jason Smith”

  1. So the hornets are looking for ‘upgrades’ on the wing:

    J.R. Smith for Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Taylor. Everyone wins!

    Too bad Amare makes so much money. He’s really been playing well this year, but that salary is a bitch to move.

  2. I really cannot wait to see Bargs and JnotR Smith on the court at the same time. The spacing is going to be awesome.

  3. I’ve decided that Amare has begun to rebound better not because of any improvement, but rather that everyone else is laughably atrocious at rebounding. He therefore grabs boards that would go to any player who had a clue how to rebound.

  4. ” At the very least, Smith is going to play decent defense and help to protect the rim.”

    -Knickerblogger, Jason Smith: A Knicksplainer

  5. What do you think of this OKC trade which works in trade machine showing neither team benefits:

    Calderon/Shump/Dalembert to OKC and Reggie Jackson/Perkins to NYK

    Jackson would be an RFA this summer like Shump. Jackson’s QO is about $3.5m (not sure like Shump’s if it”s higher than amount listed at Sham Sports). We clear a lot of salary in this trade and could sign Jackson by going over the cap. OKC receives a quality backup PG in Calderon and has always coveted Shump. This might be a good trade for them this season if looking to compete for chip but a bit of a wild card for next season.

  6. Jason Smith’s suckiness is pretty undeniable but I will say in defense of Fish that his good options aren’t exactly overwhelming at this point. He does have to play somebody. Stat has been playing really well (and I’m normally not a fan of his game) but he should really be kept to 25ish a night. More than that and you’re just asking to see him on the injured list soon (and he’s already playing 25 a night). Dalembert seems to be limited to 20 effective minutes a night (and he’s averaging 18). Acy is as bad as Smith to my eyes. I enjoy Travis Wear and he’s going to be some European coach’s favorite player a couple years from now, but he’s not an NBA player I don’t think and definitely not a PF.

    That brings us to the people’s champion, Cole. Cole needs to get his ass in shape. I like a lot of what he brings to the table, and he does rebound, which this team desperately needs, but he’s huffing and puffing after 30 seconds out there. I’d like to see him play 10 or 12 minutes a night instead of the 5-6 he’s getting but it’s hopefully obvious to everyone (although who am I kidding) that the 35 minutes a night some were calling for in the preseason is a cruel joke. He’d keel over and die in the second quarter of the first game we tried that. I ask you kind knickerbloggers, do you want Cole’s blood on your hands?

    All of that was a really longwinded way of saying that while, yes, Fisher’s rotations do leave something to be desired (more Melo at the 4, more double PG, more Cole, less J. Smith, less Bargnani (yes, even less than zero)) there are no good options with this team. Fish has clearly been doing the throw shit at the wall and hope something sticks approach which I commend. It’s not really his fault that nothing is sticking.

  7. Even I pointed out the other night that Cole looks gassed after about 6 minutes of court time. But fuck it-play him into shape.

  8. Ed Davis was right there in FA for the picking. Oh well.

    One thing that worried me a little bit about the way Phil went about the offseason was he seemed to only consider players (and coaches, for that matter) who “fit the triangle”…which seemed to only mean they shoot a lot of long twos. Hence we have Jason Smith for the mini-MLE instead of Davis or Aminu for the minimum.

    Now, Jason Smith is a lot better for tanking purposes than either Davis or Aminu. So it makes sense if that was Phil’s plan from the start, and I’m being serious.

  9. So it makes sense if that was Phil’s plan from the start, and I’m being serious.

    If Phil didn’t build this “tacit” tanking roster on purpose, than I think he really lost it.
    ….At least three bad defenders in the game at any given time and coach can’t do any shit about it….that’s a numero uno in all of the manuals on tanking.

  10. Man I wish the Knicks had figured out some way to move Melo to Chicago in a sign-and-trade that involved the Knicks bringing back Nikola Mirotic. That guy can flat out play.

  11. @10. I don’t think Phil built the roster with the express purpose to tank. But I also don’t think he’s lost it either. Even after the Chandler trade, its not like we opened up a ton of cap space to really rebuild the roster. He was able to get Calderon, who is a good piece moving forward, Dalembert (stop gap Center) and Larkin plus some second round picks. No cap space relief until Bargnani and STAT come off the books anyways, no first round picks this year to clearly upgrade with some promise. Its not like he signed Jason Smith or Acy (or Cole or Larkin for that matter) to long term deals or reupped on Shump. So I think he clearly saw this as being maybe a fringe playoff team at best and basically just did what he could for this season without sacrificing long term flexibility.

    I also believe that JR, STAT, Dalembert….are being featured and playing more bc the hope is to move them. Maybe even Calderon too. I would not be shocked at all if a major move is made December 15th OR if the entire roster, except for Melo, is gone by this time next year.

    So I think it was a hope for the best but we’ll probably tank anyways type season for Phil.

  12. JK– tomorrow the movie will air detailing it all, but from what I gleaned from the Post story with quotes from the documentary, Melo wanted to go to Chicago but Phil wouldn’t agree to a sign-and-trade at all, leaving Melo to decide on Chi @$74 or NY @$124.

  13. The knock on Mirotic was that he was supposed to be a bad rebounder, but he is averaging 10.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. Add that to his .592 TS% and good defensive ability, and you have a pretty lethal player.

  14. Take a shot every time someone in the Melomentary says winning. I bet nobody stays conscious past the first 15 minutes.

  15. Man, could we have potentially extracted Butler in a sign and trade? It would’ve been hilarious to watch people scramble for explanations when our record improved and theirs got worse.

  16. If Phil didn’t build this “tacit” tanking roster on purpose, than I think he really lost it.

    If Phil had tanking on his mind this summer, he never would have traded Felton. The only reason to trade him was to shed his salary, but Phil took back a more expensive PG in the deal.

    No, Phil thought this team would be made better by his summer additions. The “Chandler Trade” could still turn out pretty horrible for the Knicks.

    Out: Chandler, Felton, Tyler, 2019 2nd round pick.

    In: Calderon, Dalembert, Larkin, Early, Antetokounmpo.

    Dalembert, and Larkin aren’t in the Knicks plans for Future success, so Early and the Greek kid have to turn into serviceable players to make that trade look remotely good. Chandler, obviously, can still play at an elite level. Calderon’s contract is long and pricy. It could be more of a detriment than even Felton’s would have been.

  17. “I also believe that JR, STAT, Dalembert….are being featured and playing more bc the hope is to move them.”
    I agree. I also would not be surprised if Shumpert is moved at the trade deadline and replaced on the roster by Thanasis, who will have played 30+ games in the triangle for the W-Chester Knicks by then. He brings a lot of the same things to the table — both good (defense, length, athleticism) and bad (dumb fouls, erratic jump shot) — as Shumpert, and he will be considerably less expensive for the next 4 years or so.
    Re: JR — after the game last night, Fisher said that he benched JR because he was suffering from a virus, but it sure looked like he benched him for falling asleep on defense, since he took him out about 15 seconds after he got beaten badly on a back door play, and JR looked really pissed. It will be interesting to see how patient Fisher is with him over the next couple of weeks.

  18. Regarding all the Chandler worship…I hope for Dallas’ sake that he doesn’t come down with one of his mystery illnesses come playoff time, or that Hibbert doesn’t get traded to a Western conference playoff team.

  19. I don’t see how they feature j.r. or dalembert.
    Both play less minutes than last year and have basically the same usage rate.
    The triangle is built upon post = big man touches, so dalembert has more touches than on other teams but I don’t think that’s him being featured.

    As for Amar’e. He is making over 23 million dollars and is basically only of use for a contender that needs low post scoring of the bench (the only team I could think of would in theory be the thunder..)
    I don’t see a trade that benefits the knicks including STAT.
    Now if you’d like to pay eric gordon 15 mil next year ….

  20. There’s no good Stoudemire trade that is possible for the Knicks. It’s too big, and only longer term deals can come back for it. (Remember Marbury’s expiring, and how Walsh held it to the deadline hoping to swap it, but it simply proved too big to move).

    If NY wants to rent it’s 2015 cap space to a rebuilding team, that’s a different story, and maybe there’s a deal to be made with Milwaukee, or Minnesota, or Detroit, or Charlotte, that returns an asset or two for our effort. But I don’t think that’s in the MSG playbook (unfortunately).

    More realistic is the possibility of moving JR Smith to a contender with backcourt needs. (With Derozan out, how about Smith for Landry Fields?). Toronto’s not as free agent player, they have a legit shot at the ECF and have a sudden big hole, and JR Smith could possibly opt out of his final year because he won’t like playing in the great white north, making the deal even better for them.

  21. I don’t think Melo and Landry Fields like each other very much, but then I guess the Knicks could just waive Fields.

    TBH, I am really psyched to see what happens before this trade deadline. It will reveal just how aggressive and realistic Jackson is, and I feel like that in turn will determine whether the Knicks have any potential to be good in the next six or seven years. I don’t have a read on Jackson yet, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he did anything from just dumping all valuable assets, including Melo, to doing next to nothing (dumping JR Smith, for example).

    If there’s a fire sale in December, it will also answer a lot of questions about just how hands off Dolan has become.

  22. JR Smith has played mostly like garbage since coming to the Knicks. His TS% as a Knicks is a depressing .519, and it’s not like he adds any intangibles either. He’s a strikingly dumb player on both sides of the ball.

    JR might be talented, but talented is not the same thing as productive. He’ll probably continue to stink it up most of the year, then get hot with about 20 games left in the season and contribute to a couple of meaningless Knick wins, hurting their draft position and causing them to miss out an impact player. Then of course he’ll opt-in for 2015-2016, BECAUSE KNICKS.

  23. I don’t think Melo and Landry Fields like each other very much

    a) Melo is a bad judge of character.

    b) Phil gave Melo a no-trade clause, but did he give him a no trade-for clause, giving Melo veto power. Smith for Fields helps the team even if Fields doesn’t step on the court. But since Fields can actually play defense, he’d be a net gain on the court over JR too. (besides, is Melo even going to be traveling with the team come January?)

  24. Oh wait– regarding Amar’e trades, I forgot about the Sixers. They are $32 million below the salary floor, which they need to reach by the end of the year or pay that amount to the league. So I suppose that if the Sixers would rather pay a player instead of pay the league, Amar’e could be of use to them. Not sure what they’d give for him, or if we’d want any of it, but they are rich in youth, if not talent!

  25. Besides, his body may already be ready to fall apart. Thibs is a great coach…in a movie. In the real world he destroys players. Well, maybe destroy is too strong of a word, but I wouldn’t sign off on any former Bull without a complete medical evaluation; and that includes my favorite non-Knick in the league, Noah. That’s the draft pick I regret the most.

  26. I don’t think the Bulls match for Jimmy Butler if we offer him a max contract, which is what he is worth right now.

  27. That piece highlights a lot of the confusion about this season, primarily “So, are they trying to win or what?”

  28. @ 25

    I think if you don’ reach the floor you just have to divide the rest of the money among your signed players, so it basically doesn’t matter to the sixers.

    @28 I really think people have to cool down on the “running people into the ground ” narrative.. butler is avaraging 39,3 minutes/g. Yes he’s leading the league in minutes but that is nothing special, every year you have some players getting close to 40/g or even over it.

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