As the Knicks continue their ascent through the Eastern Conference standings behind the spectacular play of Jeremy Lin, the team added another piece to the puzzle on Friday afternoon. New York will welcome an explosive shooting guard to the mix by acquiring former Nuggets swing man J.R. Smith.
“His competitive spirit and team leadership and to deal with what is presented to him in a game as a young player is very impressive,” senior vice president, basketball operations and interim general manager Glen Grunwald stated.
On Friday, Smith (TheRealJRSmith) tweeted, “New York Knicks It Is!” creating even more excitement for one of the hottest teams in the league. The Knicks have won seven straight games as Lin has solidified the point guard position while quickly becoming the biggest sports story across the world.
Smith is seven-year NBA veteran with incredible athleticism and an ability to catch fire from the three-point line. Over the last five and a half years, Smith resided in the Mile High City, next to All-Star Carmelo Anthony. The 26-year old is a career 37.1 percent shooter from downtown and averaged a career-best 15.2 points per game in 2008-2009.
Smith decided to play in China during the lockout, which created this surprising scenario for the Knicks to add a player of his talent just before the All-Star break. From a pure basketball standpoint, the straight-out-of-high-school first round draft pick will help space the floor with his long range shooting abilities. He is also an underrated player off the bounce, especially around the rim where he can elevate high for jaw-dropping dunks. In 2005 and 2009, Smith participated in the Slam Dunk Contest and on April 13, 2009, he dropped a career-high 45 points on 11 three-pointers in a win over the Kings.
The New York Knicks official press release below:
NEW YORK, February 17, 2012 – New York Knickerbockers Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations and Interim General Manager Glen Grunwald announced today that the team has signed free agent guard J.R. Smith. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Smith, 6-6, 220-pounds, returns to the NBA after playing for Zhejiang of the Chinese Basketball Association. He holds career averages of 12.5 points, on .428 shooting from the field and .371 from three-point range, and 23.9 minutes in 503 games (129 starts) over seven NBA seasons with New Orleans/Oklahoma City and Denver. He averaged 12.3 points on .435 shooting and .390 from downtown (124-318), 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists over 24.9 minutes in 79 games (six starts) with Denver last season.
The Freehold, NJ-native was originally selected out of high school by the New Orleans Hornets in the first round (18th overall) of 2004 NBA Draft.
Renaldo Balkman, 6-8, 225-pounds averaged 3.0 points and 8.2 minutes over 14 games off the bench for New York this season.