There is no question that Denver Nuggets coach George Karl is not a fan of JR Smith, and while Nuggets fans are quick to blame the coach for his decision to play undrafted rookie Gary Forbes over the super sub and only giving Smith a minute the last two game, but Smith is also to blame and isn’t really giving Karl much to work with.
During Tuesday’s victory over the New York Knicks, Smith could be seen sulking on the bench during the team’s warmups in the second half and at time outs he stood as far away from team as possible. It was almost identical to his actions last season during the Nuggets victory over the Hornets that nearly got him suspended. It doesn’t matter which level you play on sulking on the bench during a team’s victory is just unheard of. The No. 1 goal of most players is getting the win or helping the team as much as possible get the victory. It makes one wonder how Smith has made it in the NBA for seven years and hasn’t learned that lesson.
There is no doubt Smith is one of the most talented players in the NBA, but his mentality is almost mirror images of former NBA stars Rashad McCants and JR Rider who each saw their careers cut short despite how talented they were. Both were just as talented as Smith, but each struggled with their attitude. McCants was suppose to be the next great former Tar Heel in the NBA after helping the University of North Carolina win the title in 2005 and Rider was a top five pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves and had attitude problems on and off the court.
Rider played for five teams during his career, including a final effort to catch on with the Nuggets in 2001. He lasted 10 games and never played in the NBA again and was just recently arrested for kidnapping. His career scoring average was 16.8 points and averaged a career high of 20.4 points in just his second season.
Despite his success in college, McCants didn’t shy away from controversy and compared playing at Chapel Hill as a prison. And after five seasons in the NBA McCants was shown the door, but not before dating one of the Kardashian sisters and scoring a career high 14.9 points for the Timberwolves. ESPN did a nice piece on McCants struggles to get back to the NBA in July, needless to say McCants still hasn’t found what it takes to get back into the NBA.
Smith seemed to show up with a much better attitude this season, which was much needed after calling his teammates selfish last season. He has had a checkered past and most coaches in the NBA aren’t going to allow it no matter how talented you are. And one has to wonder whether it is time for the Nuggets to cut ties with the 25-year-old shooting guard and trade him.