Kurt Thomas: J.R. Smith’s shoelace stunt wouldn’t have happened if Knicks had more veterans on roster

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The Knicks suffered through a rougher season than most expected last year, and in addition to the poor play from the point guard position, some questionable coaching and plenty of injuries, a lack of veteran leadership in the locker room was touted as one of the reason’s for the team’s steep decline.

Part of that was exemplified by J.R. Smith.

As you may recall, Smith was fined $50,000 by the NBA last season, after he untied an opponent’s shoelaces on three separate occasions.

The first went unnoticed, while the second got him a warning from the league office. After he went for it a third time, that’s when the hammer was dropped.

Kurt Thomas, an 18-year veteran who played for the Knicks the previous season, said if he and some of the other long-tenured players were still there, they would have been able to keep Smith in line.

From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:

Kurt Thomas believes the J.R. Smith shoelace saga never would have happened last season if he and other veterans were on the roster.

“I don’t think so, I don’t think that’s something that would happen,” Thomas said Monday night on Anthony Donahue’s Internet radio show on The Knicks Blog. “Especially if you have a veteran guy to pull him to the side, to get in his ear, to let him know the importance of him staying focused on the task at hand and that’s his job to go out there and to perform on the highest level.”

Thomas, along with Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace were all a part of the Knicks team that won 54 games during the 2013 regular season, finished second in the Eastern Conference, and recorded its first playoff series victory in 13 years. And, Smith played perhaps the best basketball of his career, taking home the Sixth Man of the Year award in the process.

It’s possible that Thomas just might be onto something.