Adam ZagoriaWith the Knicks set to cut their roster from 20 to 15 by Monday afternoon, J.R. Smith says his younger brother Chris should make the team based on “talent alone” and not on the fact that he’s J.R.’s brother.
“I don’t want that to come into play because then I think that’s a crutch for him and that’s an excuse for him to make the team,” J.R. said Thursday. “I think that he should make the team based off his own talent and his own ability. Don’t get me wrong, he’s my brother at the end of the day, but at the same time I think his talent alone should set that apart.”
According to reports, if Chris Smith is on the opening-night roster, his deal becomes fully guaranteed. Most deals don’t become fully guaranteed until early-January, as the New York Post pointed out.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson conceded that Chris’s relationship with J.R. is a factor in whether or not the team will keep Chris on the 15-man roster.
“He’s still in the mix,” Woodson told reporters in Green Bay, Wisc., according to the Post.
Woodson has indicated the Knicks are likely to keep big man Jeremy Tyler — who took jump shots without a walking boot Thursday — which would leave only two other roster spots available. Guard Toure’ Murry and big man Ike Diogu have also excelled in camp.
Woodson said he expects to meet with team president/GM Steve Mills tonight or tomorrow to discuss the upcoming cuts.
“It’s always tough to cut players, man,” Woodson said. “That’s the ugly part of our sport…I don’t like doing it but we brought 20 guys in and only 15 can make our team.”
J.R. believes that Chris should be one of those 15.
“I think he has a great chance [to make the team],” J.R. said. “We want to be a defensive ballclub and I think he’s a great defensive-minded player. He puts a lot of pressure on the ball when he guards it and he just flat out likes to guard people.”
Harris DeckerIf Chris wins a spot on this team it seems like it will be because of politics. In three games, Chris Smith has shot just 14 percent from the field on a team low seven shots taken. If this team was grasping at straws I might understand. But they’re not. Toure’ Murry has looked excellent, especially as the pre-season has drawn to a close and it just baffles my mind why Smith would make the team ahead of the clear upside in Murry.
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.