Leave it to J.R. Smith to be the voice of reason. While most have been waiting for the New York Knicks to make a trade and shed at least one of their shooting guards, Smith is glad everyone's still in New York. However, he knows for it to work with so many talented shooting guards on the roster it will take everyone putting the team ahead of individual needs.
While most thought it was laughable that J.R. Smith wants to become one of the New York Knicks leaders. However, the idea isn't that crazy. Obviously some of his behavior on and off the court needs to chance but he's the Knicks second scoring option and the most accomplished shooting guard on the roster.
The fact is that Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. all have an impact on the Knicks. Another fact is if the Knicks are going to succeed next season it's going to be because all three make their impacts felt. In order to do that, they'll need to work through the shooting guard logjam and put the team ahead of their egos.
Ian Begley of ESPN New York reports that the Knicks can only thrive if they can get production from Smith, Shumpert and Hardaway Jr.
It will be up to Derek Fisher to decide how to divide minutes among the three players.
Fisher can play one at shooting guard while the others sit on the bench or mix and match combinations of the three guards in the triangle offense, as GM Steve Mills suggested earlier this month.
"That's for the coach to decide. All we've got to do is play," J.R. Smith said Thursday. "Whatever they decide, we've got to just live with it. Hopefully everybody could put their egos aside and come together for one common goal."
Smith is right. The Knicks need Smith to play like he did when he was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year. They need Shumpert to be the defender many think he can be. They need Hardaway Jr. to continue his growth and keep impacting the Knicks off the bench.
However, Smith's actions are going to have to match his words. If he can become that leader he wants to be the Knicks will have motivation to keep him moving forward. If not, they have plenty of reasons to trade him at some point. Especially since he can opt-out after the season.
Either way they have to hope that he, Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. can put their egos aside and play together for the better of the team. If they can do that, Derek Fisher's first year as a head coach might be successful.
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