J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith set to make season debut for Knicks on Sunday

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It was an interesting offseason for J.R. Smith, and perhaps a more eventful one than the team would have liked it to be.

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year re-signed in New York as a free agent on a deal that will pay him $18 million over three years, and that was about the going rate for someone of his offensive skill set and checkered off the court history.

But two other details surfaced over the summer that impacted Smith’s reputation. He admitted to waiting to have knee surgery until his guaranteed contract was signed, and more importantly, he was suspended for the first five games of the regular season for a repeated violation of the league’s drug policy.

It could be argued that the former isn’t that big of a deal, and that many of us in the same situation may have made a similar decision. But the latter infraction impacts Smith’s ability to earn those guaranteed dollars, as well as produce on the floor for his teammates.

All of that is behind Smith for the moment, and with the suspension over with, he has been cleared to make his season debut for New York against the Spurs on Sunday.

From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith will make his debut on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs after serving a five-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson says Smith, the reigning Sixth Man Award winner, will come off the bench.

“We’ve just got to make sure that mentally he’s there,” Woodson said. “And I can’t burn him physically.” …

Smith said on Saturday that he still lacks explosiveness in his knee and needs to work on his conditioning.

“I have good days and bad days,” the 28-year-old said.

The Knicks need Smith’s offense, because once you look past Carmelo Anthony and his 24.6 points per game average, the next four Knicks in scoring average between 10.8 and 13.6 points per game, with no one else on the team consistently in double figures.

Enjoy 50-best circus shots of last NBA season

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As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.

For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.

Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
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Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.

Brilliant.

Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
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Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.

Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.

A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…

“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.

The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.