J.R. Smith and 5 Other Risky New York Knicks Signings and Acquisitions

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  • Stephon Marbury
    While playing for the Phoenix Suns, Marbury, along with Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski, were traded to the Knicks on Jan. 5, 2004 for Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Antonio McDyess, Maciej Lampe, draft rights to Milos Vujanic, a first-round 2004 draft pick, and an additional future first-round draft pick. During the ‘05–‘06 season, Marbury feuded with head coach Larry Brown because he felt Brown wasn’t offensive-minded enough, which didn’t lead to enough wins. Eventually, the combination of the Knicks' poor performance and Marbury's public spats with Brown led to a severe decline in the point guard’s popularity and the firing of Brown at the end of the season. During the ‘07–‘08 season, Marbury feuded this time with coach Isaiah Thomas, resulting in Marbury voluntarily leaving the team after learning that Thomas planned to remove him from the starting lineup. As a result, he faced a fine and suspension for every game he missed. The Knicks wanted to trade him, but couldn’t thanks to the two years and approximately $42 million remaining on his contract. Marbury then had season-ending ankle surgery in February 2008, and, in April 2008, Thomas was fired as Knicks president, replaced by Donnie Walsh, and then as coach, replaced by Mike D'Antoni. Before the ‘08-’09 season, Chris Duhon beat out Marbury for starting point guard, and Marbury was put on the team's inactive list. In February 2009, the Knicks bought out Marbury’s contract, and later that month, he signed with the Boston Celtics after clearing waivers. Marbury currently plays for the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Reuters
  • Allan Houston
    After his three-year rookie contract expired with the Detroit Pistons in 1996, Houston (R) signed a free agent with the Knicks, for whom he played for the next nine seasons. In 2001, Houston signed a six-year, $100 million maximum contract extension with the Knicks. However, the move hurt the Knicks more than it benefited: Houston, despite one of New York’s premier shooters, was haunted by a knee injury from 2003-2005, forcing him to retire early from the NBA on Oct. 17, 2005. What’s more is that even after retirement, Houston was still paid the remaining salary for the last two years of his deal. Houston attempted two separate comebacks in 2007 and 2008, despite not playing since 2005, but fell short each time before the preseason ended. Houston is probably best remembered for his play during the decisive Game 5 of the first round of the 1999 playoffs against the Miami Heat. In the fourth quarter, with the Knicks inbounding the ball trailing by one with seconds left, he caught the inbounds pass and nailed a running jumper in the lane with 0.8 seconds left to win the game and the series for the Knicks, who advanced all the way to the NBA Finals where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs 4-1. Houston currently works as Knicks assistant general manager. Reuters
  • Tracy McGrady
    McGrady (L) best years were behind him soon after only playing in six games with the Houston Rockets during the ’09-‘10 season, all in limited minutes as a reserve due to microfracture surgery on his left knee. On Feb. 18, 2010, the Knicks acquired him and his $23 million expiring contract via trade with the Rockets. The two-time scoring champion made his debut for the Knicks against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 20, 2010, scoring 26 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing five assists in 32 minutes, despite a Knicks loss. However, he only played 24 games with the Knicks after being acquired. The good thing about getting McGrady was that the Knicks also cleared $9 million in cap space, which one could argue helped pave the space needed to acquire Carmelo Anthony the following season. In August 2010, McGrady signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Pistons. He now plays for the Atlanta Hawks on a one-year deal. Reuters
  • Steve Francis
    On Feb. 22, 2006, one day before the NBA's trade deadline, Francis was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Knicks for Trevor Ariza and the expiring contract of Penny Hardaway. He made his Madison Square Garden debut two days later against the New Jersey Nets, scoring 16 points in a 94–90 loss. At the time of the trade, Francis had three years and $48.5 million left on his contract, with the salary for the ’05-‘06 season being $13.7 million. The Knicks at the time had the league’s highest payroll and, as a result of also paying Stephon Marbury $16, found themselves over the salary cap through the ‘08-‘09 season. Francis suffered tenditis in his right knee during the ‘06–‘07 season, averaging only 11.3 points per game, a stark contrast to his career average of 18.4 points per game. On draft night in June 2007, the Knicks traded Francis and Channing Frye to the Portland Trail Blazers for Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, and Fred Jones. The Blazers then bought out the remaining two years of Francis's contract for a reported $34 million, making him an unrestricted free agent. Francis then made his return to the Houston Rockets, his first NBA team, signing a two-year $6 million contract with them. Reuters
  • Eddy Curry
    Curry (L) started out with the Chicago Bulls, upping his points per game average in the three years he spent with the team after his rookie year. However, he was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat during the ’04-’05 season, causing him to miss the last 13 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs. Then, on Oct. 4, 2005, after he refused the Bulls’ request for a DNA test to assess whether he had a heart condition, Curry signed a six-year, $60 million contract with the team, followed by being traded to the Knicks. Curry averaged 13.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in his first season with the Knicks, amid questions about defensive intensity, but resurged the next season under new coach Isiah Thomas, averaging career highs in points (19.6), rebounds (7.1), and minutes (34.9) per game. After that season, though, Curry declined. He showed up to training camp in October 2008 out of shape for the second year in a row, which cost him a spot in new coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation at the beginning of the ‘08–‘09 season. From 2008 to 2010, Curry only played in a total of ten games, all the while eating up cap space for the Knicks. He exercised an $11 player option at the end of the ‘09-’10 season, but was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the mega deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Curry was then waived by Minnesota, only to sign a one-year contract with the Miami Heat before this season. The seven-footer is still listed as 285 pounds. Reuters
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Before the Knicks lost to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday, they signed sharpshooter J. R. Smith to a $2.5 million deal in order to address their greatest need - perimeter shooting.

In his debut for the Knicks on Friday, Smith logged 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal. (Reuters/Adam Hunger)

Smith is a career 37 percent three-point shooter, including a 39 percent rate last season, when he averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists for the Denver Nuggets. As of Friday, the Knicks were shooting only 30.3 percent from the arc, good for just 26th in the league. He is also an athletic and skilled ball handler and slasher who can break down defenses and penetrate.

But what are the risks?

Despite Smith being a good three-point shooter, and possibly just the up-tempo player Mike D'Antoni's system needs, he likes to shoot the three a lot, whether he is aware of a game situation or not. And, with Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony, three players may command the ball at any given time.

Character-wise, Smith's has had an attitude and temperamental behavior that have led to repercussions. He had a tense relationship with Nuggets coach George Karl, who suspended him for a playoff game in 2007, specifically because of Smith's shot selection; he served a 10-game suspension in the 2006-2007 season for his part in a Knicks-Nuggets brawl at Madison Square Garden, in which he and Nate Robinson wrestled each other into the front row; he served a three-game suspension in 2007 for his part in an incident at a Denver nightclub; and a guilty plea for reckless driving led to a seven-game suspension in 2009.

Smith had 15 points in his debut against the defending-champion Dallas Mavericks Sunday, but only time will tell if Smith becomes exactly what the Knicks need or the proverbial disruptor of team chemistry.

View the slideshow for five other players that the Knicks have taken a risk on in recent history. 

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