Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Chris & J.R. Smith Hoping to Join Forces on Knicks
The Smith Brothers, Chris and J.R., are hoping to join forces on the new-look Knicks next season.
An undrafted free agent, Chris will play with the Knicks summer league team in Las Vegas, while J.R. is an unrestricted free agent whom the Knicks are looking to re-sign.
“Oh, that would be something special, you know?” Chris, 24, told SNY.tv Thursday by phone.
“It’s probably one of the first times it [brothers playing together] ever happened.”
The brothers are from Millstone, N.J., and both played at St. Benedict’s Prep under then-coach Dan Hurley.
Chris, who helped Louisville win the Big East Tournament title and reach the Final Four, said he’s uncertain what his older brother will do, but thinks he’s leaning toward returning to New York.
“I mean, right now you never know but I think he’s leaning toward the Knicks, so we’ll see,” Chris said. “He said he’s just waiting as of right now.”
Knicks GM Glen Grunwald previously said he’d like to bring J.R. back.
“J.R. has an option to come back to us next season and we hope he will exercise it,” Grunwald said in May.
The Knicks made news on Thursday by landing 39-year-old Jason Kidd for three years, but their backcourt remains in flux.
Jeremy Lin, a restricted free agent, has agreed to an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets and restricted free agent Landry Fields has agreed to one with the Toronto Raptors.
The Knicks can match both offers, and are especially keen on keeping Lin, who was reportedly offered $10.2 million in each of his first two seasons, to either start or back up Kidd.
The Knicks also have Iman Shumpert after he was saved from going in the proposed Steve Nash deal, although he is out until December or January with an ACL injury. Toney Douglas is also under contract.
Meantime, Chris Smith is hoping to impress the Knicks once summer league play begins July 14 in Las Vegas. He and his brother are currently in Los Angeles, but Chris heads out to Vegas on Friday to get acclimated. He said he may try to work out with Team USA or the Select Team when they train there July 5-12.
Chris said he’s hoping to prove to people that he can play in the NBA.
“I’m really ecstatic because a lot of people don’t expect me to have a chance at the next level, and the Knicks gave me an opportunity to just be able to go out there and play hard, really,” he said.
Smith averaged 9.7 points and 3.6 rebounds last season under coach Rick Pitino.
“I’m going to try to play a little bit of point guard, show them that I can play the game,” he said, “show off my ability to play defense really and be able to guard multiple positions.”
He added: “I want to thank the Louisville fans and the Knicks for the opportunity.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.