Embattled New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith was benched for the second time in as many weeks on Tuesday, and neither he nor head coach Mike Woodson has provided a specific reason for the decision.
On Tuesday night, the Knicks’ five-game winning streak came to an end after a 108-98 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. During his postgame meeting with the media, Woodson refused to discuss the reasons behind his decision to bench Smith, who, for the second time in four games, did not see a single minute of time on the court.
“I’m not even commenting on J.R.,” Woodson told reporters after the game, via the New York Times. “I just didn’t play him tonight. I didn’t play him.”
The NBA fined Smith $50,000 last week after a pair of incidents in which he attempted to untie the shoelaces of two opposing players. Woodson benched the 28-year-old last Thursday, but Smith returned to action last Saturday and played 25 minutes in the Knicks’ game against the Phoenix Suns on Monday.
When asked about what may have transpired since Monday that would warrant an additional benching, Smith couldn’t come up with an answer. “I haven’t the slightest clue,” Smith told reporters, via The Record. “I worry about getting better. If I don’t play here, I’ll go to weight room, go back to the court, get my shots up, do whatever it takes for me to get better.”
Smith was unsure if the shoelace incident had anything to do with Woodson’s decision to bench him on Tuesday. “I don’t even know. It could. It could not. For that to be the trigger point for all of this to happen is ridiculous,” Smith said, via The Record’s Steve Popper.
The Knicks star confirmed that he would not ask Woodson why he was benched. “The communication from my end is over,” Smith said, via Newsday. “I’m going to show by my effort.”
Smith may not understand why Woodson decided to bench him, but the 2012-13 NBA Sixth Man of the Year has had several behavioral issues this season. He missed the first five games of the year due to a violation of the NBA’s drug policy, and was fined an addition $25,000 after sending a threatening tweet to Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings, Larry Brown Sports notes. It’s possibly that Tuesday night’s benching was merely Woodson’s latest attempt to instill a sense of discipline in his troubled star.
“The bottom line is he’s got to be more of a pro and do the right things and just concentrate on playing basketball,” Woodson told reporters on Monday, via ESPN. “that’s the name of the game, nothing else. You got to concentrate on your craft and what you’re being paid to do—that’s play basketball. That’s all I want him to do.”
It’s also possible that Smith and Woodson experienced a new issue between Monday and Tuesday night, but that remains to be seen.