Police: J.R. Smith Involved in Altercation at Nuggets Practice Facility
After numerous sources told FanHouse of the incident, the Denver Police Department confirmed it on Wednesday afternoon.
"We did have a report of an altercation that took place at the Denver Nuggets' practice facility," Detective John White of the Denver Police Department told FanHouse by phone. "That case was investigated and ultimately presented to the district attorney's office. ... Ultimately, the district attorney's office, after being presented with the findings by the Denver Police Department, decided not to pursue charges.
"We were called to that location about an incident possibly involving Mr. Smith. When we got there, the officers conducted their investigation. It did involve Mr. Smith."
According to White, the player -- who sources said lives in the Denver area and played previously with the now defunct Colorado 14ers of the NBA D-League -- is "not a member of the National Basketball Association."
According to a league source who spoke with one of the people in the gym, numerous players were taking part in drills when members of the Nuggets' coaching staff told the player who later called police to be physical with Smith.
"They were just wanting the guy to be physical with J.R., telling the other guys, 'Hey, body up on the guys and really make them work,'" the source said. "J.R. just lost it. He tried to choke the kid, and the kid called the cops."
Even with charges not being pressed, this is yet another unflattering incident for the player who is widely known to be on the trading block. Smith spent 24 days in jail last summer after being convicted of reckless driving following a June 2007 accident in New Jersey in which his friend was killed. It was hardly the first time he had shown bad judgment while behind the wheel, as the judge at the time noted the 28 points accumulated on his driving record in 2005 alone.
His on-court judgment and unpredictable ways have constantly been questioned by the Nuggets as well, with coach George Karl almost always leading that chorus. Now that former Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien is no longer around to push for patience with Smith, sources reiterated that the team, which has yet to hire a new general manager, is clearly looking to trade him before the February trade deadline.
Even with his transgressions, Smith, who averaged 15.4 points in 27.7 minutes per game last season, remains a rare breed of streak scorer. His value is aided by the fact that he's entering the final season of his contract (worth $6.03 million).
Calls to the Nuggets' media relations department, Karl and son of owner Stan Kroenke, Josh, were not immediately returned. Calls to Smith's representatives, Arn Tellem and Thaddeus Foucher, were also not returned. League spokesman Mark Broussard, who was reached in the after-office hours Wednesday, said he was unaware of the incident and was unable to immediately reach his colleagues who are traveling to Istanbul, Turkey for the FIBA World Championships with Team USA to investigate further.
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