Chris Smith says he earned a spot on the Knicks 15-man roster and didn’t get it simply because he’s J.R.’s younger brother.
“I feel like I earned my position on the team and I’m going to keep on earning my way here,” the younger Smith said Friday before the Knicks-Charlotte preseason game at MSG.
The 6-foot-2 Smith will reportedly get the rookie minimum of about $490,000 if he is on the opening-night roster. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports Tweeted that Chris made the Knicks “when J.R. signed his extension” in July.
Smith has averaged just 1.0 point in the preseason thusfar and said he knows that many people think he’s on the team simply because of his brother, the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
“Yeah, it bothers me a lot because I think people don’t really look at my talent, they just look at J.R. is here and he’s been here,” said Smith, who played at Manhattan and then Louisville under Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino. “I think if we weren’t brothers, really, I think there would be no recognition of me being his brother. At the same time, has it helped me? Of course. That’s my big brother, people look for us to be together all the time. People look for us together. So he has helped me a lot
“He’s helped me offensively and I feel like Im pretty good on defense because I’ve had to guard him growing up. People mistook that I’ve played for Rick Pitino for four years, went to the Final Four, all that in college.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson acknowledged during the preseason that being J.R.’s younger brother would be a factor in determining whether Chris made the team or not. Now, Woodson says the Knicks will look to develop the younger Smith by sending him to their D-League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks.
“He’ll probably spend a lot of time down in the D-League playing where he needs to play because it’s gonna be tough to get minutes with the logjam we have with the 1, 2 and 3,” Woodson said.
Woodson added: “He’s a young player that’s talented but needs to be developed, like all these young guys.”
“It’s still difficult right now sitting in this seat,” he said. “The Twitter, I can’t even have a social media because people are coming at me because they think my situation is something different. I feel like I earned my position on the team and I’m going to keep on earning my way here.”
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.