J.R. Smith took home the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season, and was an important piece to a Knicks team that finished the season with the second best record in the East, behind only the defending champion Miami Heat.
But he hasn’t exactly been doing things to ingratiate himself to the fan base ever since.
Smith opted out of the final year of his contract with New York, and briefly explored free agency before signing a three-year deal worth $18 million to stay with the Knicks.
Just a week later, he underwent knee surgery, and said that the decision to wait on the medical procedure until after his new contract was signed was completely by design.
J.R. Smith said he delayed having surgery on his knee until after he signed his contract with the New York Knicks because it “made more sense for my family.”
“For one, I’m a father and I have two young children to look after,” Smith said Monday. “It made more sense for my family to get a deal done before [surgery].”
Smith had surgery on his left knee a week after signing a three-year, $18 million contract with the Knicks. If he’d had surgery earlier in the summer, Smith might have been healthy enough to play in training camp. If he’d had surgery earlier in the summer, though, it might have impacted his value as a free agent.
Smith was also suspended five games for violating the league’s drug policy, something he apologized for but will impact the team that committed financially to him nonetheless.
It’s weird how fans tend to side with the organization on issues like these — after all, if the Knicks are your favorite team and one of their important players engaged in some underhanded dealing to secure a contract, you’re upset that the team was technically taken advantage of.
But looking at it from Smith’s position, the reality is that most people would be hard-pressed to have handled things any differently.