We brought you the report the other day that Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith doesn’t want to be a sixth man, he wants to start. And with Iman Shumpert still out for a while following knee surgery Smith sees an opening in the starting lineup.
But coach Mike Woodson is standing in his way.
Woodson was asked about Smith moving into the starting five and balked at the idea. Here are his quotes, via the New York Post.
“I kind of like J.R. where he is in terms of coming off the bench, but he could start, too, you never know,’’ Woodson said. “Everybody can’t start. I’ve got a nice mixture of guys in that starting unit from an offensive standpoint. I have to have some offense coming off the bench as well.
“Like I told J.R., if he comes off, there’s nothing wrong with that. Hell, he could be the best player coming off the bench in this league and maybe be the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Hopefully that will translate to a lot of wins and get us to a championship round because at the end of the day that’s what we’re in it for.’’
I agree that good teams have a sixth man who can come in and change a game, putting up points and changing the tempo and flow of the game (think Manu Ginobili). I agree that what matters is who finishes a game, not starts. And I agree that if he were consistent for a season Smith could be in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation.
But Woodson was starting rookie Mychel Thompson at the two guard with the starting team. There comes a time when the desire to have a sixth man of importance should give way to making sure your clear and away best player at a position gets the most minutes.