Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Knicks Release Chris Smith, Sign Jeremy Tyler

By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
In a move that should have never had to been made the New York Knicks recently released guard Chris Smith. Smith’s contract was guaranteed at $490,814 so the Knicks will not be saving any money in the transaction, just opening up a roster spot. Smith’s inclusion on the Knicks roster was not met positively by very many people. Many people believe Smith was added to the roster as a favor to JR Smith, the older brother to Chris.

Fans were not the only ones unhappy with Smith being on the Knicks roster as even an NBA player took notice and made his feelings known on twitter. Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings questioned Smith’s credentials compared to other players he felt were more deserving. The tweet drew the ire of JR, who was fined $25,000 for what many felt were threatening tweets at Jennings.

The timing of the release, even though it should have happened weeks ago, is still a little surprising. The Knicks are dealing with major injury problems in the backcourt as Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni are both injured and not making the upcoming road trip. Mike Woodson has gone to Toure’ Murry and JR as point guards in a pinch behind Beno Udrih in the absence of the other point guards. Let it be known that is the only reason Chris Smith in my opinion is qualified to be on the Knicks roster as his performance in summer leagues and preseason were not deserving of a roster spot. Even then it is a stretch as there are plenty of capable veterans available in free agency that would have helped the Knicks more than Chris Smith.

Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports
Chris Smith roster spot was quickly filled by the Knicks, who signed center Jeremy Tyler to the 15th spot. Tyler had a partially-guaranteed contract in the preseason but broke his foot and was released by the Knicks. The 22-year old Tyler has taken an interesting trip to get to the NBA, skipping his senior year of high school. He instead played overseas for two seasons until he was eligible for the NBA Draft. Tyler’s time overseas was tumultuous but he is still a young big man loaded with potential; in high school he averaged 28.7 points per game.

More recently Tyler has been playing well for the Knicks NBA D-League affiliate the Erie BayHawks. In his five games since returning Tyler has averaged 19.8 points and 11.4 rebounds over his last five games.

Tyler will bring something the Knicks have not had on the roster in a long time; a legitimate low-post scoring threat. Currently the Knicks best player in the post is Carmelo Anthony but he prefers to do his damage from the elbow. Amar’e Stoudemire has improved his post up game in the last two seasons since working with Hakeem Olajuwon but neither can do it as consistently as Tyler can. Tyler will immediately jump Cole Aldrich on the depth chart, who was considered to be cut until the organization decided on Smith. Tyler could see some minutes right off the bat as the Knicks will have a tough road trip they will need as many healthy bodies they can find going through the Texas Triangle. Tyler will also add useful depth to a front court where Tyson Chandler has already suffered a significant injury, Metta World Peace is about to have surgery and you never know when Stoudemire or Kenyon Martin will be shut down because of injury. Adding Tyler to the roster is a move that has been well overdue.

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