J.R. Smith has always been a gunner, a volume scorer. But this year — though five games at least — there is a sudden efficiency. The career 42.8 percent shooter is hitting 49.3 percent overall, and a ridiculous 72.2 percent from three (and he’s taking from downtown 3.6 a game).
We’re going to ignore the small sample size and the discussion of how those numbers are going to regress back to the norm at some point and ask a more fundamental question:
What is up with J.R. Smith?
Well, to hear him tell it he is being professional and partying responsibly (just like all those television ads tell you to). From Marc Berman of the New York Post on Sulia:
“My thing is, being professional 24hours a day – 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Smith said at the shootaround this morning. “I can’t let myself slip as well as my teammates slip. In order for me to hold them accountable, I have to hold myself accountable. I go out here and there. I definitely have to choose my spots. Definitely not before games. I’ve been smart about it.’’
Of course, his twitter followers know he still is no angel based on his wee-hour tweets from clubs, but he has toned it down and you can credit Woodson, whose aim was to make him more professional when he took over last season. Carmelo also said it was “night and day.”
Smith is 27, which is entering his prime but also when a lot of players start to realize they feel and play better when they get regular sleep, eat healthier and generally take care of themselves. You know, be professional. I think we all know that our bodies don’t bounce back from a night out like they did when we were in college. Even guys paid to work out see the difference.
So maybe that’s what we’re seeing from Smith. Good for him. Still now way he shoots 72 percent from three all season.
Derek Fisher is out as coach of the New York Knicks.
In this latest podcast, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss the odd timing of that move — we expect another shoe to drop as to why. It’s not that Fisher was a great coach, but replacing him with Kurt Rambis mid-season is not an upgrade. And Luke Walton isn’t available until this summer.
After struggling to figure out what the Knicks are thinking, Helin and Feldman answer questions off Twitter from readers/listeners on the coming trade deadline including discussions of Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, the Pistons, the Jazz, the Knicks, and more.
As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.
Festus Ezeli has been a rock-solid backup for the Warriors this season, playing almost 18 minutes a night behind Andrew Bogut giving the team 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. Golden State’s defense is 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.
But he’s going to be out for a while now following knee surgery, the team announced and as reported by Monte Poole at CSNBayArea.com.
The surgery is exploratory, which is why the Warriors say there is no timeline for recovery yet.
The surgery is on his left knee; it was his right one that had reconstructive surgery and forced him to miss all of two seasons ago.
This is a blow to the Warriors’ depth, but little has slowed their march this season. More Mo Speights is not ideal, but the Warriors can just go small more often and run teams out of the building that way.
Ezeli is a restricted free agent this summer and the Warriors would like to keep him on the roster and expand his role, particularly if they do not retain Andrew Bogut. The severity of this knee injury could impact Ezeli’s ability to earn a big contract this summer, but hopefully for him, it’s not that serious.
Choose your spin.
This is why Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder. Russell Westbrook doesn’t respect him.
This is why Kevin Durant is re-signing with the Thunder. He and Russell Westbrook have so much fun together.
Tobias Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Magic just last summer.
Now, just 50 games later…
Marc Stein of ESPN:
I’m skeptical this is significant. Teams discuss trades for many players for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean the player is likely to be dealt.
Orlando in particular has a roster of players who cause significant debate about their value. It’s helpful to know what other teams think of Harris, and soliciting trade offers is a good method to learn his worth.
It’s more intriguing the Magic are looking to add experience. They should probably go the opposite route, but they’ve tried (and failed) for years to accelerate their rebuild. At 22-28 – four games and three teams from playoff position – now is not the time to seek shortcuts. Spend the rest of the season developing young players – and probably securing a higher draft pick in the process.
One of Harris’ best traits is his youth. He’s just 23. See what other teams would offer for him, sure. But, in all likelihood, it’s better to let him grow into the veteran Orlando needs rather than trading him for one when the rest of the team isn’t ready to win, anyway.
My guess is that’s what Orlando will do. Remember, always consider who has incentive to leak this information anonymously and what they’d be positioned to know.