After being benched for the New York Knicks' 102-92 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday night, embattled shooting guard J.R. Smith said he's unsure of his future with the team, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
"Honestly, I don't even know at this point. At one point I was for sure, and now it's rocking the boat," Smith said after he was benched for the Knicks' 102-92 win against the Miami Heat on Thursday night. "But it is what it is. It's the nature of the business."
Smith was benched for basically scoffing at the NBA and Knicks head coach Mike Woodson after being warned by both parties about his shoelace antics. Smith had been caught untying the shoe of Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion during a Dirk Nowitzki free throw, and both the league and Woodson told the guard to cut it out. The very next game, Smith tried to pull the same stunt on Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe, although Monroe pulled his foot away.
Smith was fined $50,000 by the NBA for the Monroe stunt, a dollar amount he found unreasonable. Smith claimed the league wasn't clear about possible repercussions when the warning was initially issued, and he also called the incident with Monroe "a joke gone wrong."
Woodson had been very vocal in his criticism of Smith throughout the ordeal, until he was asked about it during and after the game on Thursday. Woodson offered no comment to TNT reporter Rachel Nichols during his sideline interview before the fourth quarter, and after the game, the coach refused to address the situation.
The benching came as a surprise to Smith, who said he was never told by Woodson he wouldn't play:
"I think that's the most misleading part of it," Smith said. "I could see if I was told, but there was no conversation about it. But it is what it is. We got the [win]."
TNT showed repeated shots of a glum Smith at the very end of the Knicks' bench throughout the win over Miami. Even the injured Metta World Peace had a better spot on the bench than Smith, who also didn't take part in team huddles. It wasn't until the end of the game that Smith appeared to show some signs of life, celebrating as the Knicks secured their big victory.
The Knicks' next game is against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, and Smith isn't sure if he'll play:
"Honestly, I had no conversations about the situation, so I really don't know what to expect," Smith said.
Smith has played very poorly all season, shooting just 34.8 percent from the field. With Smith's immature behavior making his on-court struggles look even worse, the Knicks have begun to explore the possibility of trading him. Smith can't be traded until Jan. 15 because New York is over the salary cap and he signed for more than 120 percent of his previous salary when he inked a three-year, $18 million deal this past offseason.
Because of all his issues, which also includes a recent knee surgery, there's very little trade market for Smith. The Knicks understand that fact and don't really expect to find a taker, but that hasn't stopped them from trying.