Raymond Felton getting in the best shape of his life.
Kidd avoiding light poles.
JR continuing to defend and knowing when to pull the trigger (and when NOT to).
Shump getting healthy.
Melo learning to share the ball, consistently defend and rebound, and sticking that pull-up jumper every time.
Novak getting enough space to nail three after three after three.
White surprising us.
Amar’e developing some low post moves, hitting that jumper, and regaining his bounce.
Chandler just being Chandler, with an extra low post move here and there.
Camby just being Camby.
Thomas leading from the bench.
The Knicks nabbing another big man who can contribute and another shooter!
If you would like to connect with Kirk, you can find him on Twitter – @mcmurrak
Free agent swingman J.R. Smith currently lists on his Twitter page the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers as teams he is considering.
Jared Jeffries, Nate Robinson, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith
However, the Knicks and Clippers appear to be the frontrunners to sign him, according to the source with knowledge of the talks.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Wednesday that he has spoken to Smith recently and that the conversation went “very, very well.”
The Knicks remain the presumptive favorites to sign Smith because they can offer him a pro-rated share of their $2.5 million mini-midlevel exception and a player option for a second year. The Clippers, meanwhile, can offer him only the veteran’s minimum for the rest of this season.
The Los Angeles Clippers are one of a handful of teams vying for free-agent guard J.R. Smith, who will be eligible to return to the NBA on Wednesday after his Chinese team’s season is finished, according to a source.
The Clippers were interested in Smith even before the season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups, believing they could use more offensive firepower off the bench.
That was going to be a harder sell to Smith, who is looking for a larger role. Now, they can offer Smith the opportunity to start.
The Knicks plan to be aggressive in landing J.R. Smith, coach Mike D’Antoni indicated.
“I know [interim general manager] Glen [Grunwald] every day will canvas the league and talk and try to make the team better,’’ D’Antoni said. “Whether it’s D-League, free agency, trades. Whatever make sense and helps the team we’ll do. We have to be very aggressive. We know the areas we need help.’’
The Knicks’ interest in Smith appears to be mutual, as Smith tweeted on Friday: “New York City is where it’s at!’’
Many players were reluctant to sign in China after a rule was established that there would be no provision to allow them to opt out if the NBA lockout was resolved.
Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith are amongst the players who signed in China and there appears to be no willingness on the part of their teams to release them from their contact, according to sources.
The Denver Nuggets’ options could be limited if there is an NBA season.
Three of their free agents have decided to play in China — Kenyon Martin became the third on Wednesday — and two starters are taking their games to Europe.
And while Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari can return if there indeed is a 2011-12 season, Martin will not be able to leave his Chinese Basketball Association squad until the season ends in March.
J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler have also elected to play in China, which will not allow NBA players to opt out of their one-year contracts should the lockout end.
J.R. Smith is close to agreeing to the richest contract in the history of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to sources.
Smith would make more than $3 million to play with Shanxi for the 11-12 season. Smith would be unable to be an unrestricted free agent in the NBA.
Check out J.R. Smith in his pre-game warmup as he throws this football-style pass the full length of the court into the basket.
J.R. Smith said there is a “strong possibility” he will not sign with the Nuggets this summer as a free agent, expressing frustration after the Nuggets went down 0-2 against Oklahoma City.
“It’s not going the way I planned it to go. It’s a tough situation. I want to be here, I love the fans and everything about the city. It’s just maybe not my fit,” Smith said.
The Nuggets had a team meeting on Thursday and Smith said the team did not have “a pulse” as they regrouped at Pepsi Center. “Just frustration, just really didn’t have any life in there,” Smith said. “No one was really into it.”
The Mavericks are making last-ditch efforts to acquire Tayshaun Prince or J.R. Smith ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, according to sources.
However, Dallas is not overly optimistic about acquiring either player.
Prince and Smith have been high on the team’s wish list since Caron Butler went down with a serious knee injury.