In 24 hours the Nuggets have a new head honcho, a new GM (although he has not been officially announced), another headache from a problem player and just when the Carmelo Anthony rumors seemed to be slowing down the situation reached a new level of hysteria.
And this is the offseason?
Before Nuggets fans even had a chance to revel in the historic signing of Masai Ujiri as the new General Manager Fanhouse broke a story that probably shattered any remaining trade value J.R. Smith had left. In an altercation that occurred back on August 13 J.R. was involved in a pickup game on the Pepsi Center practice court when he allegedly responded to the physical defense being applied to him by going Ike Turner on his opponent and choking him.
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.”
The Denver Police Department had originally chosen not to pursue the case. However, now that the story has broken another witness has come forward and the Denver PD has reopened the case.
Today during The Drive on FM Sportsradio 104.3 The Fan a man who claimed to have observed the fight called in and provided his version of events.
I have no reason not to believe that what the caller said was true for the most part. I am not sure if we can believe the assertion that J.R. simply attacked the other player because he was being badly outplayed as the called suggested. However, I do not have a difficult time believing the basic framework of the allegation. He also mentioned some interesting tidbits of events that he claims occurred following the incident, but pending verification I am not going to reserve comment. I found it interesting that it was inferred that even if the police end up not charging J.R. with a crime that there will undoubtedly be a civil suit as the individual involved is seeking monetary compensation.
Chris Dempsey from the Denver Post was a guest later in the show. He provided some very interesting insights into the relationship that J.R. has with some of his teammates, especially Carmelo Anthony. He also discusses what trade value J.R. might still have around the league.
I will be honest, I had no idea Carmelo and J.R. were not only no longer close, but that their relationship had deteriorated to the point that J.R. was not invited to Melo’s nuptials. I agree with Dempsey’s assertion that the best Denver could hope for would be a late first round pick or a big man deserving of a few minutes a night.
The most interesting portion of the conversation between host D-Mac and Dempsey was when they compared the personal growth by Melo with the lack of growth by J.R. Melo has had his problems in the past, but at this point in his life if he made a mistake off the court, I would be very surprised to hear about it. J.R. Smith is about to enter the J.R. Rider zone where anything is possible. Maybe that is a bit harsh as there are fights in pickup basketball games all over the country every day. Taken by itself, it is an unfortunate confrontation. However, when you look at J.R.’s apparent lack of growth over the years it is just a little too much to accept.
When J.R. signed his three year deal that is set to expire after the upcoming season I expected him to keep putting things together on and off the court and he would be ready to cash in on a big time payday. Sadly, his reputation has deteriorated to the point that I have a very difficult time coming up with a team who would be willing to give up anything for him.
The reality is if J.R. Smith does not collect himself quickly and prove he can be a decent citizen and a good teammate he is going to struggle to get a contract of any kind.