6:49pm: The public trade talk is intended to scare Smith into cleaning up his act, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, the club understands there isn’t a market for Smith.
5:39pm: New York began exploring potential Smith trades as long as two weeks ago, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Berger says the club is having a difficult time finding potential suitors, and Smith’s latest episode won’t help his perceived value. It sounds as if many league executives don’t look on Smith very highly; when asked about potential landing spots for the veteran guard, one GM replied to Berger, “I hear Shanghai has a spot.”
4:02pm: The Knicks have started to explore potential trade options involving J.R. Smith, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ian Begley. The news comes on the heels of Smith’s latest incident, a $50K fine from the NBA for “recurring” unsportsmanlike conduct related to untying opponents’ shoes.
The Knicks have become increasingly frustrated with Smith’s on- and off-court transgressions, according to Stein and Begley, who hear from one source that the team is “fed up” with the shooting guard’s erratic behavior. Appearing on ESPN Radio in New York today, coach Mike Woodson called the latest episode in the Smith saga “unacceptable.”
“I’m not happy about this, because he was warned, he comes back and he makes the same mistake, and it’s not right,” Woodson said. “It’s just got to stop. I keep saying this every time something pops up, but it’s got to stop.”
Smith, last season’s Sixth Man of the Year, has also seen his production drop off this year. After sitting out the first five games of the season due to a drug violation, Smith has appeared in 29 contests, averaging 11.3 PPG with a .348 FG% and a 9.9 PER. The latter two marks are the worst of his 10-year career.
It’s not clear what sort of trade value, if any, Smith would have at the moment. At $5.57MM, he’s not as overpriced as some other players on the Knicks’ roster, but he’s under contract for three years, with his salary increasing to $5.98MM next season and $6.4MM on 2015/16′s player option. The 28-year-old could interest teams in need of one more scorer, but his off-court distractions and lengthy contract will limit his appeal. Grantland’s Zach Lowe tweets that New York is unlikely to acquire anything worthwhile for Smith unless they sweeten the deal, and as Lowe points out, the team doesn’t have many sweeteners to offer.
Unlike most free agents who signed last summer, Smith isn’t trade-eligible until January 15th, so if the Knicks make a move, it will have to come between next Wednesday and February 20th’s trade deadline.