Well, now that series is over, the future is here, and Smith is in the last year of his rookie contract. And there's also the matter of Linas Kleiza, who sparkled late in the season but barely got a chance in these playoffs. So in today's Denver Post, Karl tries to smooth things over with his two young works-in-progress:
"I love L.K. I love J.R. They did a good job for us," Karl said. "But maybe somewhere along the line we should have had a veteran player sitting there being more capable of handling the stress and pressure of NBA basketball."It might take a little more than that to assuage Smith, whose ego is only matched by his insecurity. While he may be immature and unformed, J.R. has star potential, and more progress in '07-08 could send his stock through the roof. This is where Melo's leadership skills might really come in handy, seeing as J.R. is his best friend on the team. Never any shortage of drama with these Nuggets.