Carmelo Anthony wants J.R. Smith back

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

Carmelo Anthony has Smith's back.   (USATSI)
Carmelo Anthony has Smith's back. (USATSI)

At his exit interview on Monday, Knicks F Carmelo Anthony publicly stated his support for bringing back guard J.R. Smith should Smith elect to exercise his option and become a free agent on July 1st.

Smith scored 6th Man of the Year honors for his gunning off the bench last season, and followed Melo to New York from Denver. But in the playoffs, the Knicks' strategy of relying on Smith's off-the-dribble game fell apart, as Smith averaged just 29 percent from the field and 13.5 points per game over his last eight playoff games.

It makes sense that Anthony would support Smith coming back. He's in Melo's similar mold of preferring isolation basketball, and will back Anthony in the locker room. For whatever headaches may exist with having Smith on the roster, they're not for Anthony to suss out. He's the perfect Melo teammate. Brash, supportive, and full of swagger.

The real question is whether he'll be worth the reported four-year deal the Knicks plan to sign him to at $5 million a year should he opt out. Smith said after the Knicks' six-game elimination to the Pacers that he wanted to return and retire as a Knick.

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