Carmelo Anthony tolerates J.R. Smith's presence (Doug Pensinger/ Getty).
When the New York Knicks signed J.R. Smith several weeks ago, the assumption among many was that the presence of his former Denver Nuggets teammate Carmelo Anthony helped seal the deal. They played together for five seasons, during which they presumably forged a friendship. As you can see above, there's even a photo of the two hanging out at football game. Only true bros would do that!
Contrary to popular belief, Anthony was leery of the Knicks bringing in his former Denver teammate three weeks ago and gave a thumbs down to upper management, according to a person close to the Knicks superstar. [...]
A couple of weeks before the signing, Anthony was asked if the Knicks should sign his former teammate who has a thuggish reputation. Anthony and Smith share the same agent, Leon Rose.
"If it happens, it happens and I'll be happy," Anthony said publicly before the signing. But, according to the source, Anthony was not gung-ho and was "hurt'' Knicks upper management tossed his advice out the window.
To be clear, Anthony didn't say he'd be upset if New York signed Smith — he just advised against it. He hasn't turned his back on the team because they disregarded his advice, but he is a little annoyed. Let's not turn this part of the story into anything bigger than that.
However, there is an interesting point to be made with regards to J.R. Smith. There's no real indication here that Anthony hates Smith — I don't think it's a personal beef. Instead, it seems that he simply tired of his antics over time, seeing much of his behavior as a distraction. Eventually, Smith's potential for greatness on the court became more trouble than it was worth.
What that suggests, though, is that the Knicks might have been right not to follow Melo's advice. The problem here wasn't necessarily that Smith is always a nuisance, but that over time he can grate on his teammates. For everyone but Anthony, that won't be an issue this season. The Knicks can reap the benefits of Smith's shooting off the bench without fearing that everyone else on the roster will reject his presence.
Things haven't worked out well so far — Smith is averaging 9.2 points per game on just 37.1 percent shooting from the field, including a career-worst 28.6 percent from beyond the arc. He's also been fined for an inappropriate tweet, although the merits of that punishment are fairly questionable. Still, despite those issues, the Knicks aren't yet at a breaking point with J.R. It takes a lot of time to reach that level. And while Melo might be there already, the rest of the team has quite a ways to go.
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