In an article for Denver Stiffs, former Nuggets beat writer Chris Tomasson, of Fox Sports Florida, catches up with J.R. Smith in Miami about not being contacted by the Nuggets when he was a free agent. And the mutual need for both the Nuggets and Smith to "move on".
Big thanks to Tomasson for this exclusive story.
MIAMI _ After playing five seasons for Denver, guard J.R. Smith said he never received a call from the Nuggets when he was ready to return to the NBA earlier this month from China.
"It was disappointing,’’ said Smith, who said the Nuggets initially were on "my list’’ of teams when he was a free agent.
But Smith, who ended up signing with New York, did come to the realization it was in the best interests of both sides that he went to another team. Smith’s years in Denver consisted of plenty of battles with coach George Karl.
"I kind of expected it just from the way everything was,’’ Smith said before the Knicks’ 102-88 loss Thursday at Miami about never hearing anything from the Nuggets, who are well stocked with perimeter players. "It was kind like a no-brainer at the end of the day.’’
Smith then was asked from whose side it was a no-brainer.
"I think for both sides,’’ said Smith, who went to play in China when it looked as if the lockout might wipe out the season, "I think they wanted to go in a different direction. I definitely needed a change of scenery. So it was kind of both.’’
Smith said it eventually came down to the Knicks, Clippers and Lakers for his services. He signed with New York for the remainder of this season for a prorated $2.38 million amount and has a player option next season for $2.5 million. Smith on Thursday appeared in just his fourth game for the Knicks. But he already is expecting to pick up his player option for next season.
"That's my plan" Smith said, "If everything keeps going well, God willing I will be (with the Knicks)"
Smith has averaged 11.3 points in the four games since reuniting with former Nuggets' teammate Carmelo Anthony.
"Everything is going good,’’ Smith said. "I don’t want to say it’s been an easy transition but it’s been a fitting transition (joining the Knicks). From (the up-tempo) style of play. I’m used to that. Just to be able to get to know the guys is probably going to be the toughest part of how they want to play. But everything is going good.’’
Smith doesn’t have any games this season against the Nuggets. But he and Anthony both figure to see them next season with the Knicks.