J.R. Smith struggled in the playoffs. Well, he looked great the first couple games but he really struggled after returning from a one-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Boston’s Jason Terry in the first round.
Against the Pacers he averaged 14 points a game but on just 29 percent shooting. His play was part of the reason Indiana eliminated the Knicks in six games.
Now comes the news that maybe Smith’s slump wasn’t all in his head. Some of it was in his knee, reports the New York Post.
Not only did Carmelo Anthony play with what an MRI exam Wednesday revealed was a partial tear in his left shoulder, but The Post has learned J.R. Smith’s nightmarish playoff performance was partly because of a swollen left knee that contained fluid buildup.
According to a league source, Smith likely will have his knee drained of the fluid in the next two weeks — the same procedure Anthony underwent in March….
“[Smith’s] been playing hurt,” the league source said. “He probably should’ve sat out a couple of games. It’s what Melo had. That’s why he wasn’t driving the ball like he was. That’s why his jump shot wasn’t right, not having the lift.’’
I don’t doubt this is true. It’s also exactly the kind of thing you would want to make public before you became a free agent — Smith is expected to opt out of his $2.9 million contract with the Knicks for next season and seek a bigger payday (likely still with the Knicks). “See, it was my knee, but that’s all better now. So pay me.”
It will be interesting to see what other teams will come after Smith, and in what price range. He can light it up for a team off the bench, as we saw when a hot second half of the season won him the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. But he takes a lot of bad shots (he just tends to make more than most) and his isolation-heavy game is not a fit in every system.
With family roots in the area, I expect he stays a Knick. But it will be interesting to watch unfold.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.