J.R. Smith benched by Mike Woodson against Heat
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After being benched for the Knicks' biggest win of the season, J.R. Smith told reporters he is unsure about his future with the team.
A day after the NBA fined him $50,000 for trying to untie the shoe of an opposing player in two consecutive games, Smith did not play a single minute in the Knicks' 102-92 win over the Heat Thursday night. He seemed stunned by the whole turn of events, saying coach Mike Woodson hadn't said anything to him before the game.
"There hasn't been any discussion,'' Smith said. "That's the whole misleading part of it. I could see if I was told, but there was no conversation about it.''
When asked about his future in New York, Smith said: "Honestly, I don't even know at this point. At one point, I was for sure, and now it's rocking the boat. But it is what it is. It's the nature of the business.''
Woodson, long one of Smith's biggest supporters, refused to talk about him before or after the game, but he didn't have to say a word to send a loud and clear message.
Smith seemed to figure out what was happening when Woodson put in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Toure' Murry late in the first quarter. Smith, last year's Sixth Man of the Year, usually is one of the first off the bench.
Woodson may have been the only person at Madison Square Garden who wasn't talking about Smith. His actions and fine made him a topic of heated discussions all day on sports talk shows and Twitter. Several unsourced reports said the Knicks are looking to trade Smith. George Karl, who coached him in Denver, said on ESPN's Michael Kay show that if he were Smith's agent, he'd be looking to get him on a team with more peer pressure from teammates for him to toe the line.
"The coach-player relationship is something it doesn't seem he has enough respect for,'' Karl said. "From my standpoint, I think he wears people out.''
Woodson always has given a long leash to Smith, who rewarded him last year with a standout season. These past few days, however, have Woodson looking pretty worn out.
Smith was caught on camera untying the shoe of Shawn Marion during a free-throw attempt Sunday in Dallas. On Tuesday, he tried it again against the Pistons' Greg Monroe.
Smith has forked over $105,000 in league fines since joining the Knicks in 2012. Earlier this season, he was fined for making hostile tweets toward the Pistons' Brandon Jennings. Last season, he was fined $5,000 for flopping in the playoffs and $25,000 for posting an inappropriate picture of a woman on his Twitter account.
Although Woodson is not talking to Smith, several teammates, including Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton, issued words of support. Said Anthony: "He's good. Mentally, he's good. Probably he's upset today that he didn't play. It's not life or death. Things happen. We move on. I need him Saturday in Philly.''