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Friday, May 25, 2018

JR Smith benched again and Mike Woodson won’t say why

JR Smith KnicksFor the second time in the last four games, New York Knicks swingman JR Smith was inexplicably benched on Tuesday night. Smith did not log a single minute in a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, just as he did not make an appearance in a win over the Miami Heat last Thursday. If you’re looking for an explanation, Mike Woodson is not going to provide it.

Woodson had little to say about Smith on Tuesday. Before Monday’s game (a game in which Smith played 25 minutes), Woodson said Smith needed to start being “more of a pro.”

“J.R. and I spoke,” he said. “The bottom line is he’s got to be more of a pro and do the right things and just concentrate on playing basketball.”

What could have possibly happened between Monday and Tuesday? Smith claims he has no idea.

“I haven’t the slightest clue,” he said, per The Record’s Steve Popper. “I worry about getting better. If I don’t play here, I’ll got to the weight room, go back to the court, get my shots up, do whatever it takes for me to get better.”

Some have speculated that Smith’s benching stems from his childish habit of untying opponents’ shoelaces during free throw attempts. The 28-year-old, who said he “stopped being surprised after the Miami game,” would not rule that out.

“I don’t even know,” Smith said. “It could. It could not. For that to be the trigger point for all of this to happen is ridiculous.”

In all likelihood, the shoelace antics simply added to Woodson’s frustration. After all, Smith was suspended the first five games of the season for a violation of the league’s drug policy and fined $25K for sending a hostile tweet to Brandon Jennings. He also admitted he took an idiotic shot in a loss to the Houston Rockets earlier this month.

“If I’m not helping the team, there’s no point in me being here,” Smith said Tuesday.

The strange thing is that Smith was benched, then appeared in two games, then was benched again on Tuesday night. I suppose the Knicks could be trying to use him sparingly to audition him for a trade, but even that would be a weird thing to do. At this point, you would think the Knicks would unload Smith ASAP. They have just started winning games. Drama will drag them down.

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