Phil Jackson rips into former Knick J.R. Smith over "delinquent behavior"

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The New York Knicks' decision to trade away J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers mid-way through last season was widely regarded as the right one at the time as the duo endured a tough end to their time at Madison Square Garden.

Since then, though, both Smith and Shumpert have been on the cusp of an NBA title with the Cavs whilst the Knicks went on to record a truly dreadful campaign - leading some to argue the Knicks should have done more to keep both players on track in NYC.


Now though, in a typically frank diary piece with ESPN, New York president Phil Jackson has revealed exactly why both J.R. and Shumpert had to be shown the exit door.

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"J.R. had been exhibiting some delinquent behavior and had gotten into the habit of coming late to team meetings, or missing them altogether,” Jackson explained in comments originally transcribed back in January.

“Also, Shump and Tim [Hardaway Jr.] were regressing, so I decided to meet with them separately and try to find out what, if anything, was bothering them.”

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Jackson recounted the meetings with the struggling players and noted that J.R. Smith, a "sensitive guy," told him his bad form was to do with "some issues with his gal."

This after having nearly teared up at the news he had two strikes against his name due to poor behavior.

Smith was seen as a disruptive influence at New York even before Phil Jackson had arrived but, faced with a drop in the shooting efficiency that could rescue his off-court antics, the Knicks clearly felt it was the point on no return.

No resolution

As for Iman Shumpert, Jackson appears to have been annoyed that the shooting guard couldn't come up with an explanation for a dip in form the Knicks pres. had noticed:

“After he suffered a hip injury in Dallas, his game went rapidly downhill. Did he have any other issues to explain his decline? He said, ‘No. I don’t know what has gone wrong with my game.’"

Bad timing

The fact Jackson's January comments are only now being recounted come at a particularly bad time for J.R. Smith.

With the point guard looking to find himself a new deal having opted out of a Cleveland contract, and with the market appearing dry, teams may take another step back from the oft-controversial star after hearing more criticism from Jackson.

As for the Knicks, although both Shumpert and Smith went on to do some good things for the Cavs at the tail end of last season, it doesn't sound like they would have produced the same form in New York if they had been kept on.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
New York Knicks
Atlantic Division

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