Shortly after the Knicks reportedly decided to cut Chris Smith to create a roster spot, J.R. Smith took to Twitter to offer an apparent expression of displeasure at the release of his younger brother.
ESPNNY.com reported Monday that Chris Smith would be released so that the Knicks could sign forward/center Jeremy Tyler, who underwent foot surgery in September and had been playing for the Erie BayHawks, New York's D-League affiliate, after attending training camp with the Knicks.
"Haven't seen the last of me ... Know [that]," Chris Smith wrote on Instagram Monday.
Chris Smith, 26, signed a two-year contract with the Knicks in September. The first year of his contract, which pays him $490,000, became fully guaranteed in October. The second year of his contract was non-guaranteed. Chris Smith signed his contract two months after J.R. Smith, 28, agreed to re-sign with the Knicks on a three-year contract worth $17.9 million. Because the Knicks are in the luxury tax zone this year, Chris Smith's contract will wind up costing the team a total of more than $2 million.
Although the 6-foot-2 Chris Smith played college basketball at Louisville, he is widely regarded as a player lacking in NBA talent. He averaged 5.2 points (on 29 percent shooting) and 1.4 assists for the Knicks during the 2012 Summer League, he averaged 5 points (on 22 percent shooting) and 1.8 assists during the 2013 Summer League, and he averaged 11.3 points (on 50 percent shooting) and 2.7 assists during six games with the BayHawks this season.
New York nevertheless signed Chris Smith this fall despite not having a particular need at his position, and he managed to keep his job even after starting center Tyson Chandler went down to injury, with many observers suggesting that the Knicks release him to add an additional big man. The New York Post reported in November that the NBA "held internal discussions" about whether Chris Smith's contract was part of a "package deal" to convince J.R. Smith, the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year, to re-sign this offseason.
“Of course I have stuff to prove,” Chris Smith told the New York Times in November. “But I haven’t really played since I left Louisville. I mean I feel like I’m one of the most underrated players right now. But I’ve always been underrated. Nobody really expects me to do anything. They always look at me as J. R.’s little brother, because he’s a phenom athlete, sixth man of the year and all that. But I’ve always had my own platform, my own goals.”
In two minutes played over two appearances in the NBA this season, Chris Smith has failed to register a single box score statistic. Meanwhile, the Knicks are one of the NBA's biggest disappointments at 9-21, and J.R. Smith is averaging just 12.1 points (on 35.1 percent shooting) and 4.7 rebounds so far this season.
"It's so much easier to cope when [your] right hand is [with you]," J.R. Smith tweeted on Friday alongside a picture of himself and Chris on the Knicks' team plane. The NBA fined J.R. Smith $25,000 in November for "directing hostile and inappropriate language" towards Brandon Jennings via his Twitter account after the Pistons guard had questioned Chris Smith's place in the NBA.