NEW YORK — New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith’s suspension for hitting a player in the groin was an easy decision for the league, even without his history of trouble.
Smith missed the Knicks’ game at Detroit on Nov. 5, a night after he struck Washington’s Glen Rice Jr. in a game at Madison Square Garden.
Smith was dribbling with his right hand when he punched Rice, who was tightly guarding him on the perimeter, with his left with 5:45 remaining in the Knicks’ 98-83 loss on Nov. 4.
NBA officials conducted a review of the play and felt it was comparable to other incidents that earned similar suspensions.
“When putting everything together, we felt that it was an unnecessary hit to the groin and therefore a suspension was in order,” NBA President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn said.
Smith, the former Sixth Man of the Year, was in trouble with the NBA multiple times last season. He began the season serving a five-game suspension for violating terms of the league’s anti-drug program.
Later he was hit with a $25,000 fine for using hostile and inappropriate language toward the Pistons’ Brandon Jennings on his Twitter account and a $50,000 penalty for untying a player’s sneakers during a game.
He had been warned to stop untying opponents’ laces after he was caught on camera doing it, but then did it again anyway — with Thorn in attendance — to earn that suspension.
But Thorn said Smith’s reputation wasn’t considered before the penalty. “If you are a recidivist sometimes that may come into consideration, but in this case, no,” Thorn said.
Instead, he compared the suspension to ones handed down for similar acts to Dwyane Wade two seasons ago and last Nov. 7 to Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder, who was just days into his rookie season.
“And he certainly had no reputation for anything,” Thorn said. Smith will lose about $54,385 of his nearly $6 million salary.
(BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer)