J.R. Smith is the Next Nugget to get Churned Through the Rumor Mill

With the Carmelo Anthony rumors flying we are about to see the rest of the franchise get caught up in the drama. Chris Tomasson at Fanhouse is reporting J.R. Smith is on the trading block. The truth is with Carmelo’s status up in the air so to speak there is no player on the Nuggets roster who is safe from trade rumors and speculation. As far as Smith is concerned, J.R. was a Mark Warkentien favorite and with Wark out of town there may not be anyone left to continue to preach patience and tolerance with J.R.

The Nuggets have put up with a great deal from J.R. over the years both on the court and off. As a player there is nothing J.R. cannot do offensively (see video below), unfortunately he rarely chooses to do the truly helpful things and George Karl has famously referred to Smith as a good bad player. Despite the frustrations J.R. subjects Karl and the rest of the Nuggets players, management and fans to I have been one of J.R.’s greatest supporters due to the lure of his immense talents, untapped though most of those talents may be.

Should the Nuggets chose to seek a trade for J.R. before the season starts it would be the classic sell low transaction. There have been teams interested in J.R. in the past, including the clean cut San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat prior to the arrival of LeBron and Bosh, and there will be teams interested in him in the future. With J.R. coming off his worst statistical season as a Nugget (do not let his career high 15.4 points per game fool you) and entering a contract season I would let him get a couple months worth of games under his belt in an attempt to rebuild his value.

When the Nuggets (smartly) signed J.R. to a three year contract they did so specifically to give themselves an easy out. When Smith was a restricted free agent in 2008 he had shown signs of becoming more mature, but still had a long way to go. By making a three year commitment they put themselves in position to cut the cord if Smith did not continue to make acceptable strides.

At this point J.R.’s talent is as great as ever, but he has yet to grow his all around game to the point where it should be. Any commentary of J.R.’s maturity and progress must begin by reminding everyone he is only 24. Even so 2010-11 will be his seventh season in the NBA. How much additional time and energy should Denver put into J.R. before they give up on him? There is no way you can expect a 24 year old to have reached full maturity. There is a flipside to that argument. After receiving input and guidance for six years if a person displays little growth and continues to make the same mistakes, how much more of your limited assets will you pour into him?

At this point you cannot fault the Nuggets for shopping J.R. around the league. I thought Arron Afflalo did not get as many minutes as he deserved last season and trading J.R. would open things up for him to play a larger role. If the Nuggets choose to trade J.R. this season, it will be difficult for me to quibble with the decision. Every contested three he jacked up over the past season sapped a little more of my desire to defend him.

Still, I have to wonder why they would announce their intentions for Smith through the media. J.R. is not the most stable player and I doubt knowing he is likely to be dealt will help him perform better on the court. I may be all hopped up on rumors and conspiracy theories, but I have to wonder if letting their thoughts be known about J.R. might be designed to send some kind of message to teams who are involved in discussions related to Carmelo. During the Indian Summer of Carmelo everything is about Carmelo.

By the way, it is interesting this news is coming out from Denver when the Nuggets are sans GM. It could go to show that there are already plenty of decision makers in place with the presence of Josh Kroenke and Bret Bearup.

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  • David

    If we manage to trade J.R., what do you (Jeremy or anyone else) think about trying to land Rudy Fernandez? The guy is talented and he only makes a little over 1 mil. He’s unhappy with both his playing time and the offensive system in Portland, which only allows him to be a spot-up shooter. He wants to create on the offensive end. What’s a better situation for him than Denver, which runs no offense to speak of? Anyway, he has a lot of the same traits as J.R. – hopefully without the baggage – and he’s low-risk, low-salary.

    My other thought is this: Instead of looking for a 2-guard (if we trade J.R.), do you think it’s time to start Lawson (using him like our version of Tony Parker) and move Chauncey to the 2-guard? What scares me about this scenario is the memory of D-Will posting up Lawson every time he was in the game. But if Lawson is going to be a starter some day, then the Nuggets will have to learn how to counter those tactics.

  • k

    why trade for rudy? He gives you the same thing as jr does and has shown he will publicly complain if hes not happy. At least jr just has bad body langauge. His stock has to be lower than jrs right now. They should trade jr for a young big like derek favors (obviously that wont happen). I know David shot down my master plan but if we trade Jr it should be for something to help us long term not a quick fix. It would be nice to get some draft picks back. Afflalo should play more than 20min a night. He was pretty good at knocking down the 3 as well without taking bad possessions. Give lawson and afflalo jr’s minutes and start rebuilding our front line because you know they are not staying healthy.

  • asdqqq

    I tend to think that any rumors coming out before the Nuggets have signed a GM are more likely media speculation than an accurrate reflection of the Nuggets actual future moves. Do you really think that they will make any deals before they get a GM? Are other GMs talking directly to young Kroenke? And when they get a new GM, don’t you think what he says will play a big part in any potential moves? Wark leaving makes JR moving more likely, and that’s probably the basis for Chris Tomasson’s source’s statements. But unless “a source close to the situation” is Kroenke or Bearup, it doesn’t really mean anything. Just looking at Tomasson’s past “sources” articles with the Nuggets, it doesn’t look like he has any kind of access to the higher ups. I could be wrong, but I’m not getting worked up about anything until after the GM hire.

  • Joel Lawrence

    Carmelo to Lakers part 1 of 2

    4 team (Denver, Lakers, Pacers, Portland) …9 player trade.
    If …. Denver decides to trade Carmelo Anthony and rebuild (Big if!!)…

    Denver deals…

    1. Carmelo (SF) and A Alfallo (SG) to Lakers.
    2. R Balkman (PF) to Pacers

    3. Denver uses one of the 2nd round pics from Lakers to send to Pacers for Lance S


    (Note) ….. Denver hires Jerry West as a consultant to help drive the deal.

    Denver gets..
    1. Artest (SF), Vujacic (SG), and Walton (SF) (ALL three salaries are needed to

    makes money in trade balance, and thus Luke is…conveniently…. key to making

    this happen) from the Lakers (Plus 4 Pics and 3.6 M cash)*
    2. Lance Stephanson (SG) from Pacers **

    * (Note) extra cash and 2 of 4 pics are extra compensation to Denver for Luke….

    (We currently have 4 2011 pics)

    ** (Note) one of 4 pics (high 2nd 2011) to Pacers so Denver nets 3 pics (low 1st

    2011, high 2nd 2011, low 2nd 2013)

    Denver side move…
    1. Denver pays off and waives Coby Karl (SG) to clear roster space
    2. Denver uses the roster space to hire a 2nd string SF behind Ron…. [Jarvis

    Hayes (SF) at VM?].

    Lakers deal….
    1. Artest, Vujacic, and Walton (need his salary to make it work) from the Lakers
    (Plus 4 Pics) (Plus 3.6 M cash) to Denver.
    2. 2 pics (low 2nd 2011, low 2nd 2012) and 2 M cash to Portland for Rudy (SG).

    (Note) .. 6 pics (all 2011(4), 2nd 2012, 2nd 2013) Plus 5.6 M cash total are dealt

    by Lakers as sweetners for trade.

    (Note).. Lakers have 2 draft pics left after trade complete w/original 1st round

    2012, 2013 intact.

    Lakers get…
    1. Carmelo (SF) and A Alfallo (SG) from Denver
    2. Rudy Fernandez (SG) from Portland.

    Lakers side moves…
    1. Lakers bring back DJ Mbenga (C) for depth and Championship continuety

    (otherwise only 6 come back from last year).

    Pacers deal….
    1. Lance Stephanson (SG) to Denver (for 2011 high 2nd)
    2. S Jones (C) to Portland

    Pacers get…
    1. R Balkman (PF) from Denver.
    2. Mid second round pick from Denver for Lance (one of Lakers pics originally)

    Pacers side moves…
    1. Pacers use the newly opened roster spot to sign another PF…. [Earl Barron

    (PF) at VM?].

    Portland deals…
    1. Rudy Fernandez (SG) to the Lakers (for 2 pics and 2 M cash)

    Portland gains….
    1. S. Jones (C) from Pacers.
    2. 2 Pics (low 2nd 2011, 2012) and cash from Lakers for Rudy.

    In conclusion…. (and in dreamland…lol)

    Best part of trade is that Denver is way better off than Clevland or Toronto….

    The worst part for Denver is Luke.

    Best for Lakers is Carmelo and 2 quality perimeter shooters (plus outa Luke’s

    contract)… low part is many pics, and Ron Ron dealt.

    High point for Pacers is filling the need at PF….Low point is parting with Lance

    S (kinda).

    High part of trade for Portland is dishing Ruby for Center, pics and cash!! Low

    point is dealing him to Division rival!

    ALL of the teams, and most of the players are better off… (assuming Denver is

    gonna lose Carmelo anyway)…..comments?

  • David

    k… We agree more than you think. I’m not saying we should trade J.R. for Rudy. J.R.’s salary is more than 5 times what Rudy’s is, so there could not be a “J.R. for Rudy” trade (and we shouldn’t make that trade even if we could). I’m saying that IF we trade J.R., then we will need a replacement.

    If we do trade J.R. (or any of our major assets), I agree it should be with the purpose of trying to get a big man and/or draft picks. Then, in order to replace J.R., it would have to be in a separate, smaller deal. Since Rudy is affordable and similar to J.R., we could do worse. His contract expires at the end of the season anyway. If it doesn’t work out, no real harm is done, depending on what we have to give up. Like you said, his stock isn’t very high right now, so we shouldn’t have to give up too much.

  • David

    Joel… Wow! I’m impressed just with the work that must have gone into this. Unfortunately, you lost me when I found out I would have to cheer for Artest and Vujacic. Ouch!

  • ARoth

    The worst part of that trade is not Luke Walton, it is Sasha, Ron-ron, Walton, and sending Melo to L.A. Denver doesn’t get near enough value back in this trade. Artest is a good defender, but if we lose Melo and JR, we need to get someone back who can put points on the board, and someone with PF or C size. I would much rather have the trade exception than the Laker’s garbage. Why would Denver want the Laker’s draft picks anyway? They are guaranteed to be in the bottom 3 of the league! I will continue to root for Carmelo regardless of where he goes, as long as it’s not to the Lakers.

  • Tom


    I appreciate the work you put into that… but I’d honestly rather just have what Toronto or Cleveland got than that pupu platter. Artest? Vujacic? Walton? I think Memphis got better assets for Gasol than the Nuggets would for Melo which is saying something. Not to mention we give up Afflalo who’s too solid a rotation player simply to be some throw-in. In that trade scenario we’d be locked into Artest and Walton for the next 4/3 years respectively.

    Cleveland got 2 firsts and 2 seconds for Lebron. Toronto got a first and a $16M trade exemption. If I had to rate those two and your trade proposal for returns on Melo, I’d give the Cleveland option a C-, the Toronto one a C, and the Lakers one a F. Sorry, just being truthful.

  • jon

    are u kidding melo would never be a laker, nice try buddy. sasha? ron? and LUKE WALTON? 2 of the three shouldnt even be on a nba team. jr and melo are staying. the lakers r gonna keep their scrubs. and denver will take 2011 championship.

  • Michael

    You want J.R. Smith (or something comparable)? Well you can have him for cheap. His name is Rashad McCants, who may be a better scorer and better defender. Just as crazy but just as lethal offensively.

  • criznick

    The Lakers being in play isn’t so far fetched, but Bynum would have to the key player coming to the Nuggets.

  • http://roundballminigcompany.com john

    i like your idea melo for bynum straight trade maybe add jr for artest but i would stop being a nuggets fan til luke walton was off the team if that happened. if we got bynum we would have a stud center for the first time since camby. we would be set at pg and c for many a years to come. we would have to defensive stoppers with afflalo and artest. and nene has his good offensive games here and there. we would jsut need a jamal crawford to come off the bench and average 20 a game for us. what ya think off that scenario if that would to happen championship in denver by 2013 heat r punks and wont do nuttin

  • The Big Bill

    Melo to the Lakers? How in the world would this help the Nuggets? We would be better off sending Melo to the Clippers where he could do battle with Kobe. The Clippers could offer us much better players than Artest, Walton, and Sasha. We would also be better off just letting him leave for nothing. I wouldn’t even be willing to trade Melo for Bynum. Melo is the best player in Nuggets history. There is no way we would trade him to the team we hate the most, especially for that teams garbage.

  • http://Hornets247 Nick


    What do you guys think of that trade?

    If you don’t know anything about MT, he averaged 20 ppg through February to April as a rookie. Really a fantastic scorer. Added with Peja’s fat expiring and 3 pt shooting, Varejao, Craig Brackins (21st pick from this year’s draft) and a 4.5 million trade exception.

    You’d guys lose JR, Birdman, and of course Melo.

    This would be something I’d offer at the deadline since Peja’s expiring will be more valuable then and we can see if you guys will be title contenders or not.