When the Knicks’ signed Chris Smith to a training camp contract this past fall, it was assumed that such a signing was a result of the team’s loyalty to his brother, J.R. Smith.
Many wondered how far the courtesy would go. After donning a Knicks’ Summer League jersey and spending training camp with the team, would the Louisville guard go on to make the squad?
Such discussions were put to a halt when the younger Smith injured his knee and was forced to have surgery on his left patella tendon. The Knicks went on to waive him following the injury.
In October (the time of the injury), initial reports signaled that Smith would be out of commission anywhere from three to six months. Should he be sidelined for the full amount, the brother of the Knicks’ sixth man would be scheduled to resume basketball activities in April.
But despite his injury, the Knicks haven’t exactly let Smith loose to fend for himself during his rehab. The young gun has remained around the team all season long, working out at the team’s training facility, appearing at most home games, and even making a couple of road trips, too.
Is New York simply keeping him around out of courtesy, or do they have plans for him in the future?
Sources tell KnicksJournal.com that the Knicks still plan to sign Smith, as they continue to visibly keep him in the fold this season.
The guard was quite confident that he would have made the Knicks straight out of training camp, had he not suffered the injury. Though New York has struggled as of late, the team’s clear goal this season is to chase a championship. How would giving up a roster spot to the younger Smith (as opposed to adding a veteran instead) have affected the team?
Contrary to Smith’s beliefs and/or hopes, it appears more likely that the Knicks have the D-League in mind when it comes to his immediate future. Of course, New York could always assign him to the Erie BayHawks (even if he were contracted with the big league club), but why bother if they plan to have him spend the bulk of his time in Erie anyway?
The Knicks have allowed Smith to stick around with their team in hopes that they can monitor his progress, and then still bring him into the BayHawks’ fold later on.
Following training camp, Erie acquired Henry Sims, Mychel Thompson, and Oscar Bellfield after the Knicks let them loose following training camp. Whereas Sims has gone to emerge as an NBADL All-Star, Thompson was traded elsewhere and Bellfield was released less than two weeks into the season. Given how the latter two appeared not very high on the BayHawks’ priority list, it makes sense that Smith would have occupied one of their spots instead, had he been healthy.
According to ZagsBlog, Smith hopes to hit the practice hardwood in April and begin scrimmaging with the Knicks. That said, should his rehab process be even the least bit ahead of schedule, don’t be surprised if he practices and/or plays some in Erie instead. The team’s regular season ends in early April, but if Smith is able to go a couple weeks before that, it would make sense for him to turn up in the NBADL a bit first.