Phil Jackson Says Knicks Traded J.R. Smith Because Of ‘Delinquent Behavior’, ‘Relationship Issues’
J.R. Smith had a good season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, an inconsistent-though-at-times-strong effort in the playoffs, and is now a free agent. So it's a bit surprising that New York Knicks head man Phil Jackson would be so willing to get specific on why his team traded Smith to the Cavs last season.
Of course, the following quotes were made earlier this year, and revealed in a three-part article on Jackson by ESPN's Charley Rosen. But they're still pretty candid.
“J.R. had been exhibiting some delinquent behavior and had gotten into the habit of coming late to team meetings, or missing them altogether,” Jackson said. “Also, Shumpert and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) were regressing, so I decided to meet with them separately and try to find out what, if anything, was bothering them.”
“We talked about his (Smith’s) statement to the press that our shooting guard depth was going to be the team’s asset, but so far it hadn’t worked out that way,” Jackson continued. “He was supposed to carry the scoring load for the second unit and he wasn’t doing the job. I also said that because of his unacceptable behavior, he had two strikes against him with this team. He didn’t really respond.”
And perhaps the most revealing of all:
“He’s a very sensitive guy, with his big doe eyes. He looked like he was going to tear up," Jackson said. "But he finally responded that he was going through some issues with his gal.”
How do you tell that to a reporter? Well, salud, Mr. Rosen.
What surprised me most about the NBA Finals, besides the Warriors inserting Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup, was this seemingly innocuous photo.
I's J.R. Smith arriving for Game 4 in Cleveland on a hands-free scooter. I wrote it then, and repeat it now: the Cavaliers had a 2-1 lead in the series, and your main scoring option other than LeBron shows up to the arena on a toy? His teammates all arrived dour-faced, intense and ready for business. And J.R. arrives like he's taking a tour of Willy Wonka's factory.
Not only that, but following the Cavs' Game 6 loss, Smith left the arena the same way -- on his scooter. Here was a man who didn't really take his job seriously. And Phil Jackson just illuminated that thought. Although why he did it is still kind of a mystery. Will any other player ever tell him anything personal ever again?
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