J.R. Smith has been having a relatively quiet offseason, avoiding the headlines, hitting the golf courses, and generally staying out of the spotlight. Well, no more. J.R. is very active on Twitter, and responds to fans whenever he has the time. This morning, one of his fans wrote him and proclaimed that Smith would reclaim the Sixth Man Of The Year award next season. To which J.R. responded, “Nope no more bench for me!!”
Now, whether this is just a proclamation from Smith or if he’s gotten assurances from the team that his role will change next season is up for speculation. We do know Phil Jackson is a very forthcoming communicator. He’s already told Raymond Felton he will explore trade options for him (translation: we need a better point guard) and had dinner with Carmelo Anthony before telling the media that he convinced Melo to at least think about not opting out (translation: you’ll look bad if you do it now, because I gave you an option not to. How very Zen). It would not be a surprise if Phil did have a sit-down with J.R. after the season and told him about a potentially expanded role that includes being in the starting line-up. For the record, I like to imagine the conversation happening over a series of Twitter DMs, but that’s another story.
After averaging 18.1 points per game in 2012-13 and winning the Sixth Man award, J.R. played in 74 games last season, starting 37 of them. He shot 41.5% from the field last year, which was not far off from the 42.2% he shot when he won the award two years ago. The team, of course, won 54 games that season compared to 37 last year, so the numbers feel a little worst. In reality, J.R. is who he always has been, a streaky shooter who can win games for you when he’s on, and vice versa when he’s not.
Given the uncertainty of the roster with Melo’s impending free agency and Iman Shumpert potentially being on the trading block again, it would not be shocking to see Smith get thrust into a starting role. Now, if this is just him stating his desire to start? Then certainly there will be a sit-down between J.R. and new head coach Derek Fisher. And we can only hope that also happens over Twitter DMs that eventually makes it way out for public consumption.
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