The New York Knicks missed out on the Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes, so they’ll have to progress the rest of the offseason essentially with the roster they have right now.
There are some names they could bring in for an opportunity, and they’ve been linked to a reunion with former star Carmelo Anthony. With Boston Celtics Danilo Gallinari, another former Knick, going down for the season, Anthony has been linked to that opening.
Another former Knicks standout, J.R. Smith, is trying to get back into the league after winning a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2020, but he thinks he’s been blackballed.
Speaking to Complex Sports, Smith says he and other players such as Joe Johnson and Isaiah Thomas are actively being kept out of the league.
Smith Makes a Bold Claim
Smith, the Sixth Man of the Year winner with the Knicks back in 2013, carved out a long NBA career for himself, but he hasn’t played in a game since 2020. He believes he still has the talent to play, and he argues other players who find themselves on the outside looking in can make the same argument.
When asked if he feels he was blackballed by the league, Smith responded “100 percent.”
“You got those 30 teams, or the top three people on each 30 teams, and exclude them, give me the four through 15th men, just the four through 15. Name one of them that’s better than me.”
He then goes on to name a whole list of players he believes to have suffered the same fate.
“And I feel like it’s a whole genre that that happened to,” he continued. “The Joe Johnsons who obviously still got game, still can play. Jamal Crawford, still got game, still can play. Nick Young, still got game, still can play. Isaiah Thomas, still got game, still can play.”
Could Be a Reason
It is certainly worth mentioning that Smith is 36 years old and hasn’t been in the league in two years now, so his chances of making it back and playing any sort of sizable role is very slim.
Crawford and Johnson are both over 40, so them finding a spot on an NBA team looks like it’ll be a difficult thing to do. Thomas played for the Hornets last season after being signed to a pair of 10-day deals, but he managed to stick around for the remainder of the season after that.
Ultimately, he played in 17 games for Charlotte and averaged 8.3 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting, so he seemed to have proven he could stick around in the league.
After his near-MVP campaign in Boston, Thomas has bounced around the league and he’s had trouble sticking with any team. The 2-time All-Star is well past his prime, but it seems like he’s the only player on that list with a real grudge to hold. Even if he isn’t signed before training camp, he’ll be a candidate to be signed during the season in the event of an injury to another point guard.
As for Smith, the former Knicks sixth man has much dimmer hopes.