J.R. Smith’s Knicks future in question following another benching

J.R. Smith couldn't carry the Knicks to a win in Portland. Credit: Getty Images
J.R. Smith’s tenure in New York has been a rocky one this season.
Credit: Getty Images

Someone knows why J.R. Smith was benched against the Bobcats, but it’s not him.

The enigmatic shooting guard was a healthy “did not play” Tuesday night in the Knicks’ 108-98 loss in Charlotte.

“I hadn’t the slightest clue [I wouldn't play],” Smith told reporters following the game. “I’m just worried about getting better. If I don’t play, I go to the weight room or the court to get shots up.”

The man who controls Smith’s minutes, head coach Mike Woodson, said even less about the benching.

“I’m not even commenting on J.R.,” Woodson said. “I just didn’t play him tonight.”

Smith was benched on Jan. 9 against the Heat after receiving a $50,000 fine for repeatedly trying to untie the shoelaces of opponents, even after being warned not to by his coach and the league. That benching also came as a surprise to Smith, who said he hadn’t discussed playing time with Woodson prior to the game, though the Knicks won, 102-92.

Smith said after the game Tuesday that it was “ridiculous” for the shoelace incident to cause a second benching, should that be the reason.

Woodson was a strong proponent of bringing Smith to the Knicks during the 2011-12 season, after he returned from playing in the Chinese league. He also supported re-signing Smith this past offseason. He signed a three-year, $18 million deal in July 2013.

There have been media reports that the Knicks are looking to trade Smith – something they can do starting Wednesday – but his contract and history of disciplinary issues makes a trade unlikely.

Smith was suspended the first five games of the 2013-14 season for failing a marijuana test. Players aren’t suspended, nor is the team informed, until a player fails three tests. He was also fined $25,000 for a tweet at Pistons guard Brandon Jennings earlier this season.

He is averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He is shooting just 35.7 percent from the field in 32 minutes per game. He averaged 18.1 points per game and shot 42.2 percent when he was named Sixth Man of the Year last season.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.


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