We haven't heard much from J.R. Smith yet this summer. Unlike much of the roster, he's been set in place, uninvolved in trade speculation and under contract for two more years. So, while there was drama about Anthony's free agency, analysis of trading Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, the Knicks' draft picks, and who they could add with the mini-MLE, Smith has remained out of the conversation.
Well, fear not! J.R. is alive and well. He stopped by ESPN today for a brief appearance on "First Take" (hat-tip to commenter Endless Paradise for the heads-up and taking some notes on the appearance). Check out the interview below:
A few notes on the appearance:
- J.R. apparently is quite a good golfer. If you follow him on Twitter or Instagram, you know he plays it pretty often. I actually covered his charity golf tournament last summer, but he didn't get to play because he was recovering from knee surgery.
- He also says he likes golf because it forces you to concentrate harder, and if you lose your concentration for a second, you'll mess up. *Psssttt, basketball is the same way, J.R.*
- He kept mumbling and everyone had to tell him to speak up. I feel like this is the case in every J.R. interview I've ever heard.
- On some of the misery of last season: People were confused about the game plan and chose to do things different ways. "We agreed to disagree a lot of times." Sounds like a lack of good coaching and a strong, vocal leader (e.g. Jason Kidd).
- He started off the season poorly from cracking under pressure of the contract and his previous season. Things like the sneaker-untying backfired as ways to lighten the mood around the team.
- He considers last season the worst of his career -- even worse than his rookie year. Results and advanced numbers matter, too, (like having a negative net rating), but J.R. still finished the year with 14.5 points, 39.4% 3FG, with 4 rebounds and 3 assists per night. Not terrible.
- Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton's discombobulation factored into the overall lack of execution. "A lot of pick-and-roll situations we weren't agreeing on, and that right there will kill you...."
- Chandler also had personal issues, like his mother's health, which hurt his on-court play.
- Stephen A. Smith -- who everyone has their own opinion about -- to his credit, interviewed J.R. well. Asked him tough, personal questions and got thoughtful, or at least honest responses. I enjoyed the bit where J.R. just cracked up at Smith's "Raymond Felton clearly wasn't himself" bit.
- Smith defended Mike Woodson, claiming the Knicks tuned him out as the season went on, despite Woodson's best attempts to get their attention.
- He says he wasn't that surprised by Melo returning to the team, but judging from his pause before answering, it sounds like he has other thoughts on it. Pure speculation on my part, however.
- He's known Fisher for a long time and is excited to play for him.
- Finally, J.R. claims the Knicks could possibly win the Eastern Conference. Probably not, but it's July, so we're allowed that optimism all the way to Halloween.