Now that Derek Fisher is officially the New York Knicks new head coach, figuring out how to get the most out of a lousy roster becomes priority No. 1 for the rookie head coach.
At least one man is already angling for more minutes as it seems like he is expecting to be in the starting lineup on a nightly basis.
Former Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith pretty much declared himself a starter next season as he sent out a Tweet that said “No more bench for me.”
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) June 10, 2014
Smith has only started 167 of his 692 games over his 10-year career, 55 of which came during his rookie season with the then New Orleans Hornets, but the solid bench scorer is hoping his new coach doesn’t send him back to the bench role that he has never been too thrilled about.
He didn’t make a single start during his best season as a professional in 2012-13, which culminated with winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award, but that didn’t stop him from trying to talk his way into the starting lineup prior to last season.
Smith had a down year last year compared to the one prior when he saw declines in points (14.5, down from 18.1) and rebounds (4.0, down from 5.3), while his PER slipped below the league average mark of 15.0 (14.0).
He did start 37 games last season, including the final 22 and his numbers went up, although the Knicks really didn’t have much to play for.
However Smith has quite the selling job to make to his new coach as he doesn’t offer up much on the defensive end and his willingness to chuck up shots in volumes often disrupted the Knicks offense. Now that the triangle offense will be installed, you have to wonder what kind of leash Fisher will give Smith, as too much freedom for a guy like Smith can turn into a bad thing.
Add into the fact that Smith can be a nightmare for a first-year coach and not starting him could create major problems in the locker room, based solely on how Smith acts.
However we are getting way ahead of ourselves wondering if Smith will start on not.
He still needs to be wearing blue and orange come training camp before we worry about that.
It may be difficult to move Smith as there won’t be a big market for him, but the problems he brings both on and off the floor are things that Phil Jackson doesn’t want to put on Fisher’s plate right away.
Needless to say there will be plenty of storylines surrounding this Knicks team this summer and Smith’s role is certainly going to be one of them.