J.R. Smith Wants to Move on From Latest Incident, Stay in Denver
J.R. Smith also has had plenty of negatives during his seven-year career. He did flirt last season with being known by his given name of Earl Smith Jr., perhaps thinking that might soften some headlines, but he soon abandoned that idea.
"For me, it was just more or less people were looking at it as, 'Well, that's just J.R. being J.R.,''' the Denver guard said Monday about his flagrant foul 2 last Friday against Utah that got him a $25,000 fine Saturday. "That's my first ever flagrant 2.''
Smith said he likely won't appeal the fine and that he has "no beef'' with Jazz guard Deron Williams, who shoved Smith and got a technical and later said Smith made a "dirty play.'' He's just looking to move on, and that definitely doesn't have anything to do with moving on from the Nuggets.
Smith's name still has come up in rumors as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches. That is despite Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri having told FanHouse before the season he is confident Smith will last the season with the team and despite Ujiri and Smith both telling FanHouse in December the desire is for Smith to re-sign with the Nuggets this summer.
Smith, making a base salary this season of $6.03 million, is due to become a free agent July 1, although any progress then could be delayed by what happens due to the collective bargaining agreement expiring June 30. He told FanHouse on Monday nothing has changed from his end in wanting to remain long-term in Denver.
"I want to be here,'' said Smith, acquired by the Nuggets from Chicago in July 2006. "My main goal is being a Nugget. I'm not really focused on anything else but being a Nugget and bringing this city a championship. ... Definitely, I don't want to go anywhere (else).''
Smith's Denver tenure has included a 10-game suspension in 2006-07 for fighting in a brawl with New York. It has included being cited for reckless driving in a 2007 accident that killed a passenger in his car, and resulted in Smith being in jail for nearly a month in 2009 and suspended for seven games to start last season.
There have been run-ins with Nuggets coach George Karl. There was an incident last summer in which Smith allegedly tried to choke a former D-League player at a workout, although no charges were filed.
Compared to past incidents, Smith's flagrant foul and fine was minor stuff. Still, it put his name back in a negative light.
With 6:45 left in the 113-106 home loss, Smith had fouled Jazz guard Raja Bell hard on a drive to the basket. He was immediately ejected.
Williams then elbowed Smith in the back to get a technical. He blasted Smith after the game.
"He took him out of the air,'' Williams said. "You could see it was intentional. ... It was a dirty play. I know J.R. I like J.R. But you can't push my teammate out of the air like that.''
Smith did escape a suspension. But he was fined several hours before Denver's 113-100 win at Minnesota on Saturday.
"They've made it where now if it's a flagrant 2, it's pretty much they're going to fine the people,'' Smith told reporters Monday "The ref made the call and the league put what they thought was right. I'm not going to say I disagree with (the fine) because the rule is set for everybody.''
Smith, 25, said he's been friendly with Williams for about a decade since the two faced each other in AAU tournaments. He understood where Williams was coming from, although disagreed with the "dirty'' characterization.
"That's the heat of the moment. I understand that. We went through the same thing in New York a few years ago when I thought it was a dirty play,'' Smith said of the Dec. 16, 2006 brawl in which Smith fought after he believed Knicks guard Mardy Collins fouled him unnecessarily on a late breakaway to the bucket. "My intentions were not dirty. It just wasn't to let (Bell) get the 'and one,' let alone the easy bucket.
"I have no beef with (Williams). Deron's a great player. He's always shown me the utmost respect. I always show him the utmost respect.''
Smith, acknowledging the play overall was a "mistake,'' didn't let the incident carry over. He scored 11 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter against the Timberwolves. He also had seven rebounds and three steals while playing a fine overall 27 minutes.
"Just try to rebuild from it and just try to come back as a positive and get the W,'' Smith said. "Hit great shots in the fourth. Just try to move on.''
Meanwhile, it doesn't look as if Smith will be moving anywhere by the trade deadline. As for Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, that's an entirely different story.
Anthony, who has yet to sign a three-year, $64.47 million contract extension and can become a free agent this summer, could be dealt in the next 2 ½ weeks to New York, believed to be his preference.
There was an ESPN.com report over the weekend about a possible three-team deal that also would include Minnesota and land Anthony in New York. But no trade is believed to be close, and a source close to the Timberwolves said Minnesota still considers itself a bystander while the Knicks and Nuggets haggle about a possible deal.
"I don't think I talked about it much,'' Karl said Monday, shrugging off the latest rumor.
Karl said Anthony missed shootaround due to personal reasons Monday and center Nene was out due to illness, but he expected both to play in the evening game against Houston. With all the rumors that have been swirling about Anthony, Smith did admit to wondering if something might be up when he showed up for the shootaround.
"I seen Melo wasn't here,'' Smith said. "I'm like, 'What's going on with Melo?' Everybody's like, 'Oh no, he's just called out (excused absence).' But it's tough because once you walk in the locker room, you don't see him, it's like, 'What's going on?'''
As for what's going on with Smith, he still doesn't want to go anywhere.