The Knicks sound serious about pursuing J.R. Smith.

Mike D'Antoni's rotation could really use a shooter. J.R. Smith, formerly of the Nuggets and currently under contract with the Zhejian Golden Bulls, is unmistakably a shooter. Accordingly, Marc Berman reports, the Knicks intend to pursue Smith once he becomes available:

Mike D’Antoni acknowledged the Knicks’ need for another shooter and indicated the club would be "aggressive’’ in looking at free agent guard J.R. Smith.

It'd be nice to see the full/original quote there, but there's undoubtedly interest, and it sounds like it's mutual (the Knicks are on Smith's reported "wish list", and Smith's been teasing Knick fans on Twitter). There appear to be a few obstacles between Smith and New York. One is the destiny of his Chinese team. Last week, they were reportedly at risk of missing the playoffs, meaning Smith might be able to return by around the All-Star break.

Smith also might be seeking more than the Knicks' $2.5 million exception (Berman reports as much by way of J.R.'s dad), though one imagines he'd be hard-pressed to find something greater elsewhere. New York's got the aura of Mike D'Antoni's offense and one or two of Smith's old teammates going for them as well.

It's hard to feel one way about this. Smith is obscenely talented at basketball-- deadly on the catch-and-shoot and athletic enough to blow by anybody-- but does have a long record of brain farts and streakiness. Folks also get upset because of Smith's off-court antics (he was charged with assault a few years ago and appears to be one of the worst drivers on the planet, though it's been a couple years since he's been in trouble) and because he likes to flap around and pound his chest and make O-faces after he hits shots. Oh, and he has tattoos that make him look like he has a terrible rash on his neck. So, yeah. All that stuff gets pretty obnoxious at times.

Anyway, I don't think I'd be opposed. Smith would be bound to upset us on occasion, but he'd also fit quite nicely into a team that desperately needs floor-spreading and bench scoring. It remains to be seen how soon Smith can return to the U.S. and, after that, how mutual the interest between Smith and the Knicks really is.

(As a side note, signing Smith would mean that every person suspended in the infamous Knicks-Nuggets brawl would have been a Knick at some point. So, there's that.)

(Oh, and this is also worth a look.)

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