J.R. Smith Excited to Have “Clean Slate”


J.R. Smith is the kind of player that drives fans crazy. One moment he is the best player on the court, the next he is untying his opponents shoes. Coaches far and wide will rave about the amount of talent Smith has, but the player does not come without his baggage. Throughout his career, Smith has been just as well known for being Captain Nightlife as he has as the best sixth man in the league.

Last year, Smith got off to a terrible start, mainly due to his suspension for violating the NBA Drug Policy and off season knee surgery. The New Jersey native coupled his bad start with a series of immature moves of untying opposing players’ shoelaces while at the free throw line (Side note: I think this got blown way out of proportion by the media. A simple technical would have gotten the job done.).

When Smith was finally healthy in the second half of the season, he really excelled and fans were able to remember the type of player he has the ability to be. This year, Smith is finally healthy and thankfully is not suspended for the start of the season. The dynamic guard spoke about how he is looking forward to starting fresh this upcoming season.

"“I think it’s definitely a clean slate,” Smith said at Knicks media day on Monday. “I think it will be a more productive start of the year for me. There’s nothing hanging over my head whether it’s injuries, suspensions stuff like that. So I’m starting out from Day One with my team and it’s a great feeling.“I didn’t feel like I did two years ago until the last 30 games of the year.”"

A clean slate is definitely a good thing for J.R. Smith. With a new offense that will cater to his skill set and positional versatility, Smith should thrive in his first year under head coach Derek Fisher. Phil Jackson has had a history of dealing with some “different” players in the past, and in a recent Q&A with the New York Post, Jackson said that Smith has “a little Dennis Rodman in him.” Will this be the year that someone can get J.R. Smith to focus for an entire season? Ex-coach Mike Woodson was able to accomplish this for the most part when Smith won Sixth Man of the Year, but last season clearly lost control of the team.

Derek Fisher said that “only number seven” is guaranteed to start this year. That leaves the door open for Smith to claim a spot and no longer come off the bench. Remember, when the Knicks hired Fisher earlier this summer, Smith had tweeted that he is “done coming off the bench this year.” According to Smith now though, all he wants to do is win.

"“Just trying to get closer to my goal which is winning an NBA championship, just doing whatever it takes,” Smith said. “Spend meaningful time on the court and not just waste time. Do whatever it takes whether it’s working harder or staying later, preparing, doing whatever it takes to win.”"

If J.R. Smith can maintain this attitude throughout the season, the Knicks have an opportunity to be a very good team again. Smith has already talked about becoming more of a leader, so why not start now and help get this team back on track?

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