Photo: Alexander Young
Photo: Alexander Young
J. R. Smith’s Zhejiang Golden Bulls didn’t make the playoffs, which means we’ll soon have him back on American shores. But while Kenyon Martin’s return had possible playoff consequences, Smith’s future is, of course, totally uncertain, culturally fraught, and potentially quite strange. Teams wants him, but hate themselves for it; with a little effort, Smith could land himself on a good team and be viewed as a net positive. Both parties would be coated in rose-colored majik dust. Or something far stranger could happen.
Los Angeles Clippers
Pros: With Chauncey Billups now sidelined for the year, the Clippers have a serious need for some two-guard depth, especially someone with Chauncey’s long-range capabilties. Smith would bring needed wing athleticism and the ability to fit into a clear role as an outside shooter.
Cons: With barely any cap space or exceptions, the Clips might not be able to pay J. R., who’s unlikely to accept acting lessons from Frankie Muniz as compensation. Additionally, negotiations could be interrupted by Donald Sterling marveling over Smith’s beautiful tattooed body.
New York Knicks
Pros: Smith would finally be paired with a coach who allowed him to shoot as many threes as he could possibly want. Also, with his style and general who-gives-a-fuck attitude, he could help the franchise appeal to the Brooklyn types likely to be courted by the Nets this summer.
Cons: Jeremy Lin believes Smith is possessed by a demon and would prefer the franchise sign a devout Christian.
San Antonio Spurs
Pros: Gregg Popovich has a proven record of taking other teams’ problem children and turning them into useful components on championship teams (Glenn Robinson, Stephen Jackson), so there’s little chance they’ll be scared off by his reputation. If anything, the Spurs now seem willing to introduce a little bit of crazy into the locker room if it results in some new vitality on the court.
Cons: When told of the team’s trademark dry humor, Smith will attempt to ingratiate himself into their culture by filling the Gatorade jug with gasoline.
Maitre’D at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse
Pros: Smith is part of that last wave of players who idolized Jordan, no question. Jordan has never forgiven Smith for spurning UNC for the pros, to the point where dude nearly mentioned J.R. in his vituperative Hall of Fame speech. Smith, aimless and undone, needs to start back at the beginning and figure out where it all went wrong. If Jordan is Smith’s basketball Father Figure, working for M.J. is the ideal way to earn some respect; the position of Maitre’D requires expertise and intensive customer relations. In other words, a test of all that Smith’s not supposed to have in him. It would be like Kanye’s fashion magazine internships.
Cons: After this experiment, there’s a good chance that only the Bobcats would have him. And they might up and move to China, where they would spend part of each off-day stitching together Nikes.
95.5 WPLJ Street Team
Pros: The best mix of the 80s, 90s, and today sells itself. J. R.’s responsibilities would be fairly basic, including leaving stickers at abandoned Sam Goody stores in New York and jumping out of vans to scare unsuspecting tourists.
Cons: Smith hates Scott & Todd in the mornings and doesn’t know if he can promote a program that defies all his deeply held beliefs about zoo crew antics.
Writing Staff of The Big Bang Theory
Pros: A huge fan of King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond, Smith has a great grasp of CBS comedy’s easy rhythms and poorly disguised penis jokes. Few NBA athletes know characters like Sheldon and Penny as well as he does.
Cons: J.R.’s spec script refers to Mayim Bialik’s character as “Blossom” and Johnny Galecki’s as “Roseanne.”
New York Jets Practice Squad
Pros: North Jersey native Smith was a star WR in high school, to the point of actual D1 recruitment. Many receivers have basketball in their past; the best tight ends are usually thwarted basketball players. Why not bring in Smith, and turn his glowing, mangled career into a two-sport reverie for the ages? J. R.’s curious ideas about teamwork and professional conduct would rub most NFL organizations the wrong way, but that’s why the Jets stay the Jets: to one day sign J. R. Smith to a piddly contract and hope for the best.
Cons: Rex Ryan insists on doing his own parts in the event of a book on tape.
Pros: J. R. fits all the obvious criteria for this gig. He has led an “amazing” life with plenty of ups, downs, and dramatic episodes that deserve the hushed-tone treatment. Throw in a few ripe pauses, off-color jokes and shouted crescendos, and you’ve got a performance that could either go off-Broadway or declare itself a pitch for “The J.R. Smith Way.” Be yourself, just not the bad parts. Raise hell, but know your limits. Let others think what they want, unless they matter. Love your family and regret nothing. Plus, this line of work is ideal for people who need badly to convince their peers, and themselves, that they have really changed for the better. Then, the investors come to prop up the personalized line of illuminated jaccuzis.
Cons: Dangerously close to J. R. getting religion, but in a twisted, Dostoyevsky-ian kind of way.
Country Club Pro
Pros: Many NBA players take up golf because they are wealthy and bored. J. R. not only jumped on this hobby well before his lifestyle clock started ticking, he’s also among the more serious golfers in the league. He’s even tweeted about waking up hours before his course opens. Sources tell us that Smith has a smooth swing and impressive power, but could stand to get to the course a little more often (NBA players are pretty busy). He’s disciplined about the sport, but unrefined. This would be a win-win for both sides.
Cons: That is, unless Smith’s neck-to-toe tattoos put him out of favor with the club’s more conservative members.
Exotic Pet Task Force (Paid in Exotic Pets)
Pros: It’s inarguable: Smith fits all the criteria for the Exotic Pet Task Force. It would be exciting, dangerous, and give him the opportunity to travel to more far-off lands. Plus, he would probably be fine with payment in the form of endangered beetles and leopards with unpleasant eye colors. His kindred spirits, if you will.
Cons: It’s a fine line between busting animal smuggles and becoming a fine art bandit.
Pros: He will finally find the inner calm, away from all basketball, wealth and fame.
Cons: Smith really fucking hates Leonard Cohen.