J.R. Smith

This summer, I expect to hear J.R. Smith's name brought up repeatedly in
connection with the Bulls.  I don't really feel like dealing with
Smith piecemeal so I might as well get my feelings out on the table.


For those unfamiliar with Smith, he's a 25 year-old 6-6 shooting guard
who has played the last 4 seasons for the Denver Nuggets.  In 2004, the
New Orleans Hornets signed him out of high school as the 18th overall
pick in the NBA draft.  After two years with New Orleans, he was traded
as "filler" in the trade that brought P.J. Brown to the Bulls and sent
Tyson Chandler to New Orleans.  The Bulls kept Smith for 6 days...as
long as it took to get a couple 2nd round picks from the Nuggets...the
Bulls had absolutely no interest in Smith.

Smith is an extremely talented scorer, averaging 18.8 points per 36
minutes over his 7-year NBA career.  He's also adequately efficient with
a career true shooting percentage of 54.7%.  I haven't watched many of
his games since neither New Orleans nor Denver tend to get a lot of
national TV run.  From what I've seen, he's got a huge "Wow Factor." 
Unfortunately, he's also got a huge "WTF Factor."  He's an
indiscriminate shooter.

He's a career 37% 3-point shooter, which is OK, but that doesn't really
tell the story.  When Smith is on, he doesn't just make 3-pointers, he
makes 3-pointers from what ought to be 4-point range....with a hand in
his face...and off balance.  Seriously, he can be amazing.

Cutting to the chase, I have no interest in Smith...zero.  He's a bit of
a whack job and a coach's nightmare.  While I haven't seen many of his
games, I can recognize a million dollar player with a 10 cent head
when I see him.

This is what Smith is.  Someday someone might rehabilitate him and he
could become an absolute jewel.  The Bulls need to make some incremental
improvement, but they don't need to take this kind of risk.

As a 19 year-old rookie, New Orleans head coach Byron Scott started
Smith in 56 of the 76 games Smith played, but only played him 24 minutes
per game.  After that rookie season, the uber-talented Smith has been a
bench player.  It's the kind of thing that makes you go "hmm."  And
it's not as if he's been coached by clueless novices...Scott and Denver
head coach George Karl know the game.  Even when the Nuggets lost their
top scorer Carmelo Anthony, Karl didn't start Smith or see fit to play
him big minutes.  In their 2011 playoff loss to the Oklahoma City
Thunder, Karl played Smith a paltry 15 minutes per game.

It's been said that it got to the point that Karl refused to talk to
Smith.  He'd send him in the game from time to time, but didn't want to
deal with him.  For those keeping track, this is not a good thing.

Oh yeah, part of the reason many Bulls fans are all gaga about Smith is
that Smith is a free agent.  Smith supporters believe that he'll be
available for the mid-level exception (aka the MLE...about $5million
year 1 salary and, since the Bulls are over the salary cap. the only way
that they can sign a free agent outright).  If the Bulls could sign
Smith with the MLE, they wouldn't need to trade any of their current
players.

Pure and simple, Smith's a headcase.  While he undeniably has loads of
talent, he's never quite taken the game or his career seriously.  After 7
seasons, I happen to believe that those who believe that this might
change with the Bulls are simply foolish optimists.  These fans will
counter with something like, "Yeah, but the Bulls have to do something!"

I hear ya, but the Bulls won 62 games and don't need to employ a
roulette wheel strategy to the team's improvement.  They don't need to
"take a flyer" on a proven loser...and that's what J.R. Smith is...a
proven loser.

Tom Nossem

Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: chicago bulls, J.R. Smith

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  • Ummm, what exactly do you mean by "proven loser"? Is it that he hadn't particularly "won" any NBA titles? Well, in that case neither had Lebron, or Bosh, or Carmelo and everybody wanted them hear. And let us take a small closer look, Bosh had a career playoff recored of...? And Lebron's legacy, no matter how many titles he may win, will always have the fact that he QUIT....on his TEAM...in the PLAYOFFS...attached to it. OJ Mayo hasn't won anything, bet you'd take him. Was has Courtney Lee or Affalo won? Their name is always mentioned when it comes to lusted-over players. We've been down this "character" road before with some fella named Dennis Rodman, whoever he was. Lakers did the same thing with Ron Artest and it worked out...(maybe that's not the best example).

    Interestingly enough, NOBODY seems to want Hamilton. Someone that has won. Has a ton on playoff experience. Would bring a certain type of leadership to this team that would have been such a benefit to Rose in the Miami series late in games when things got scrambled like Sunday morning breakfast. People you all must understand that you can not have it both ways. Bulls are to young. But you don't want them to get an "older" player because he is simply older. You don't want them to get a younger player b/c they may lack maturity. Which I think has a lot to do with the college game. Smith came out of HS, where he most likely had a multitude of people blowing smoke up his wazoo. Look at how Duncan or Tyler Hansbrough has benefitted from a structured college program.

    Bottom line is that no matter what the Bulls management does, if it does not result in winning the title, Bulls fans will criticize and protest they made all the wrong moves, or didn't try hard enough. And as far as JR Smith goes, 7 years as an NBA player, still in his youth and who's name could possibly be mentioned by a title contending team...yeah, you are so right...what a way to lose!

  • In reply to HollywoodKole:

    Proven loser in that he is never earns significant minutes, despite being a decent scorer.

  • In reply to HollywoodKole:

    I am often torn between the pro/con opinion on Smith. I've watched a lot of Denver this past year (in fact, I've watched a lot of all west coast teams, because I typically turn on the TV at 9:30 and watch whatever the best game is on league pass).

    Smith has his share of problems, there's no denying it. He is a bit of a headcase. He's also extremely athletic, can be very assertive defensively at times, can absolutely crush teams like a number one scorer at times, can shoot, and can create off the dribble.

    At his best, he provides everything you could ask for from a SG. He's also young enough to stick around with the rest of core.

    The downside is he definitely gets mentally out of it. He shows bouts of mindbogglingly bad shot selection. Sometimes he's completely uninterested in defense. He can be a complete black hole. The fact that he makes off balances shots that should be 4s is scary because he's taking off balance shots long enough to be 4s.

    I'd be awfully tempted to consider Smith among the free agents available though. The Bulls have great team chemistry, and I think they could afford to take on one knucklehead if it considerably improves their talent. Smith would do that.

  • In reply to HollywoodKole:

    Rodman, Artest, Rasheed -- with the right team there's always room for one headcase. Pair him with another headcase and you're in trouble.

  • In reply to HollywoodKole:

    JR Smith was cited for driving a scooter around Miami without a drivers license. Yeah, he's a proven loser. *sarcasm*

    I would definitely offer JR Smith a contract. He fits a need, and the Bulls could definitely use him. One thing most players who have been around Thibs say that he's a good communicator, and even Rose and Noah have said the same this year. I believe Thibs could handle Smith. To quote Charles Barkley: "Every team needs a crazy guy" someone who is willing to get really aggressive, and someone who's somewhat intimidating. Most championship teams had that guy. Ex: Rasheed Wallace, Dennis Rodman, Kevin Garnett, Ron Artest, etc.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    The fact that he wasn't on speaking terms with his present coach, his last coach also disliked him, and Thibodeau doesn't look like he's willing to give a guy a ton of leeway means there is cause for concern.

    I wouldn't dismiss the idea that this guy simply won't work well with this team because of his attitude.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    The only way I can see that the Bulls can go after JR Smith is if Brewer is going to be the starter and play 30 MPG. Smith just isn't a guy you can rely on, he's someone you play when his head is in the game and bench when it isn't. So given the Bulls will only have the MLE (if it exists of course) they'll only be able to sign one guy, and if you want to make that Smith, you better have a plan on how to use him.

    FWIW I think the way Thibs insists players take threes in preference to long twos has worked on Deng would be great for Smith. He's a very good player when he's jacking up threes (even if you could live without the fours ...) but as soon as he tries to do more than that he gets into trouble. As a designated shooter in the Korver type role he'd do well.

    He's still not my first choice but I can probably talk myself into being OK with it so long as Brewer is the starter.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Shakes I couldn't disagree with you more. I think smith should start to space the floor for Rose and two have one more exfremely dangerous scorer on the floor. That would be four with him starting, how quickly I forget Booz sucks lol. I Love Ronnie coming of the bench with the mob and providing a huge spark. I would try to drop Korver in some trade and go with Bogans as the third SG as he is cheap, knows the system and plays D. If we could get Smith for the MLE I would like find another SF if Thibs thinks Bulter can't cut it cause Deng certainly needs to get a blow next year.

    smith, when I've seen him is extremely dangerous shooting and off the dribble and to relegate him to only spot shooting is a mistake. I say let him start, would be good for his ego, and makes sure if knows if he doesn't bring it Ronnie can replace him at any time. I would LOVE smith and think he needed a change. If not JR then I hope someone who is still somewhat young like Mayo so he can grow with the team.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I do NOT put him anywhere near the same category as Tyrus Thomas for example. I think he has decent bb iq and is a great talent. He may have some personality flaws but Thibs might be just what he needs, he certainly resurrected Deng game this year.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    JR Smith finished the season strong for Denver after the Melo trade and was a big reason they played so well down the stretch. It was largely because he started shooting half his shots from three. He really isn't a guy you want trying to get creative with the ball because he's not an efficient scorer when he does that, the only thing he's "dangerous" to is his team's chance of winning. If he'll buy into it I think he'd thrive in an offense where he was asked to primarily be a shooter, rather than the ISO heavy Denver offense he's played in for years. He wouldn't get as many flashy plays but would be highly effective.

    The bench mob needs some scoring, CJ Watson can't throw the ball in the ocean most nights, Gibson and Asik are below average offensive players, and Thibs plays Deng 48 minutes a game largely because he needs at least one player out there with the bench who can hit a shot. Smith off the bench makes a lot of sense.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I agree that he should be creating a ton as a starter but he can certainly take his man to the basket some which we almost never saw Bogans do. I also think he could stay in some nights, dengs usual role, when he has it going and provide some extra rest for Loul.

    I think smith off the bench would lead to smith trying to do too much. If he thinks he is the main option then that is how he will play it. I think this would hurt the mobs offensive development because he certainly would play more selfishly compared to being a part of a talented starting unit. I would also consider replacing Watson with a more true point guard who is willing and able to set everyone on the mob up.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Shouldnt

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I don't mind him driving occasionally to keep the defense honest but Smith really is more effective the more threes he takes. He's a far better shooter than his percentages, which he tends to drive down with the terrible shots he takes.

    Really that's my biggest concern, if he'll buy into playing team ball and take better shots. Denver haven't traditionally run a very structured offense so you can kind of give him some benefit of the doubt but the way he's clashed with his coaches isn't promising. I don't think Thibs is a guy who is likely to put up with a lot of crap.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    And you're unlikely to find much of an upgrade at setting people up than Watson, his assist% is pretty decent for a bench point guard. My problem with Watson is he forgot how to shoot when he came from the Warriors.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Tom...I disagree with you. I would take JR Smith unless we are getting an all-star type SG.
    1. He came out of high school and was probably immature with all that money. And immaturity doesn't go away in 1 or 2 years. Off-course, he is a risk. But, we are not signing him for a Boozer type deal. Give him 2/3 year contract.
    2. He might take plays off on defense; Haven't we seen that with Boozer and Rose? We have seen the Bulls have the best record with Bogans as the SG...What we need now is for someone to perform in the playoffs against elite teams who will shutdown Rose and make somebody else beat them. Smith will "probably" be focussed during playoffs and can not only space the floor but create on ISO sometimes when Rose is double/triple teamed. If we don't get another creator, ball handler wing player...that will be our achilles heel eventually.
    3. The Bulls obviously need to have some backup plans if this plan backfires. They need JR Smith, Brewer and another SG/SF type guard from this draft as the 3rd guard. Maybe Bogans as the emergency 4th guard(replacing Pargo).
    4. I agree with Unstopabull that we need to change CJ Watson if possible. He seems to be more of a combo guard rather than a guy who can run the second team offense.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Great points! I don't see a short term deal under $5M/yr bad for someone as young and talented as JRS. Sometimes a change of scenery can be all he needs to do good. Maybe being in the 3rd largest market in the US (Chicago) will do him good! I say do it or Mayo. We had a unbelievable year winning 62 games with Bogans being are starting SG and having major injuries to Noah and Boozer...WOW!!!

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    We definately need a player that can put up some points in bunches when we need it and had in Ben Gordon in years past.

    We tried to get the Big 3 here and gave Salmons to Milwaukee and we really could of used him this year and would have had a better chance of beating the Heat with Salmons as our starting SG, even just for his offense!

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Hell no to JR Sith. Thanks for addressing it now so you won't have to numerous times in the future, but this is really not even a debate.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    what about stephen jackson via trade?? bobcats are basically rebuilding...what did they get for sending Gerald Wallace to blazers? Jackson is 33 but score 18 points a game. think he has 2 yrs left on his contract for $8 no completely sure. personally would prefer 1)K MART 2)JR SMITH 3)S JACKSON....all sound impossible.

  • In reply to sharynlewis:

    Stephen Jackson scores 18 points a game by taking a lot of shots. He's not, and has never been, a very good player.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    A very good point!

  • In reply to HollywoodKole:

    You made a damn good point!

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