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.
Tristan Thompson has been one of the biggest bright spots in an otherwise miserable Cavaliers season. The center is averaging 12.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He has also taken on more leadership.
And now he’s out.
Cavaliers forward/center Tristan Thompson will miss approximately 2-4 weeks with a left foot sprain. Thompson was injured in last night’s road game at Milwaukee late in the third quarter
This will help Cleveland improve its draft position, though it’s not as if Cleveland (6-21) was having much issue losing even with Thompson.
At least the Cavs have plenty of options at center. Expect Larry Nance Jr. to take a larger role. Ante Zizic likely joins the rotation. Cleveland could dust off Channing Frye. Kevin Love might return before Thompson.
Seven of the top eight picks in the 2018 NBA draft are scoring double-digit points per game.
The exception: Magic center Mohamed Bamba.
Bamba certainly hasn’t been bad. He’s just acclimating to the NBA at a more common rate than peers like Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Deandre Ayton. This is an exceptionally good rookie class.
But this won’t help Bamba catch up. He missed Orlando’s 101-76 loss to the Mavericks last night.
Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel:
Bamba, who was suspended for a game for being late for the team walk-through at the hotel in Dallas on Monday
“It was a violation of team rules,” Clifford said. “It’s just a one-game thing. Mo will play again on Thursday, but that’s what it was.”
“It’s just bad on my part and I just need to be better … just gotta be on time,” Bamba said. “It’s very difficult because you want to be out there and impact the game in any way possible and hope for a different outcome.”
I doubt Magic coach Steve Clifford suspended Bamba for a single instance of tardiness. This was likely a culmination.
Orlando (12-15) is eighth in the Eastern Conference, in the thick of the playoff race. If the Magic are going to take advantage of the low bar for making the postseason, they need all hands on deck – including Bamba.
Lonzo Ball missed a layup early last night. That might have made him overthink later, when he was ahead of the pack on another fastbreak. Instead of shooting the open layup, Ball bounced the ball behind him without looking, leading to a turnover and open Heat 3-pointer.
On the bright side for the Lakers, they still beat Miami.
On the bright side for us, we got this great Luke Walton reaction GIF:
After the Lakers beat the Heat in LeBron James‘ and Dwyane Wade‘s final game together, the stars shared an eyebrow-raising conversation on the court:
- Wade: “I appreciate you letting it end here. I appreciate you bringing us here today.”
- LeBron: “It was either here or at the Garden. That’s it. That’s the only places we could end it at, man.”
That prompted immense speculation about whether LeBron considered signing with the Knicks. After all, how else would he and Wade – who said he’d re-sign with Miami or retire – have played at Madison Square Garden?
Michael Duarte of NBC Los Angeles
This was always the most likely explanation. The arenas in Los Angeles in New York are the NBA’s biggest stages, and LeBron has repeatedly stated his affection for Madison Square Garden. He didn’t have to think through all the implications to say those were the only appropriate locations.
But I’m still a little skeptical.
LeBron sure was speaking up for the cameras with Wade. And that was after an on-court conversation with Wade a few years ago blew up into a big deal. LeBron also got reminded just last year, with Lonzo Ball, about how much attention those on-court talks generate.
Plus, ever since Phil Jackson bothered him with his “posse” comment, LeBron has repeatedly gone out of his way to tease the Knicks.
Ultimately, I believe the given explanation that this was just about the arena’s allure and nothing more. An offhand remark needn’t completely follow the logic that either LeBron or Wade must play for the Knicks for them to meet at Madison Square Garden. But I’m not completely sold this wasn’t a passive-aggressive dig at the Knicks.