J.R. Smith: Worth the risk?

News out of Denver lately is that the Nuggets are shopping guard J.R. Smith, the player the Spurs came very close to getting in a deadline deal with the Hornets several years ago.

J.R. SmithThe Spurs and Hornets were not able to get the paperwork into the league office, and since then, many Spurs fans have watched Smith wondering how successful he could have been for the Spurs.

Last year for the Nuggets, Smith averaged 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game in just over 27 minutes per game.

Those numbers have to be intriguing for Spurs fans, who saw Richard Jefferson put up lesser numbers with more playing time.

Smith could give the Spurs another athletic wingman, who can shoot the three or slash and finish at the rim. He’s also relatively young, with six years of NBA experience and being drafted out of high school.

Assuming the Spurs wouldn’t have to give up any major pieces to get Smith, especially since the Nuggets seem eager to be rid of him, would he really fit in with the Spurs?

The Spurs are stockpiled with guards. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, George Hill and James Anderson all figure to be a part of the regular rotation. Gary Neal also has a contract in hand and Garrett Temple could still make the roster, so clearly there isn’t space there.

One weakness the Spurs have yet to really address is backup small forward, but is Smith, 6-6, big enough defend the taller small forwards in the NBA?

Aside from all that, Smith really isn’t a Spurs-type player. The Spurs are known around the league for putting together a team of high-character players without rap sheets, and Smith’s rap sheet is about as thick as Ginobili’s accent.

In 2006, Smith was involved in the Nuggets-Knicks brawl.

In 2007, he was involved in an incident at a Denver night club and was suspended for three games.

Last year, he served 24 days in a New Jersey correctional facility after pleading guilty to reckless driving that ended in a fatal crash that killed friend Andre Bell. He also failed to show up to a court appearance, resulting in a fine.

Smith has had his share of time in George Karl’s doghouse, and even called out his teammates on twitter after a loss against the Jazz.

On August 13, he was involved in a physical altercation at the Nuggets practice facility during a pickup game. The investigation was recently re-opened.

Now if any coach could tame a player like Smith, it would be Popovich. His expiring contract may also be enticing enough for the Spurs front office to take a chance on him if a trade scenario was agreed to.

So what do you think, Spurs fans? Is J.R. Smith worth the risk?

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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