If J.R. Smith really wanted to start in the NBA, it shouldn’t be too hard. Cut down on the shaky defense, get rid of the broken plays, and stop shooting contested triples from Albany and we’re pretty sure he could lock down a gig with New York’s top five this season. Plus, the injuries to Iman Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer could conceivably push Earl into the MSG introductions by default, at least for the opening months of the season. Smith has been an off-the-bench spark plug throughout his career – a spot that seems tailored for him because of his streaky shooting – yet told The New York Post that he’ll come off the bench if it’s better for the team, but that he really wants to start. At this point, we do feel for him a little bit. In the NBA, it’s all about labels, and Smith has been labeled a crazy-headed bench scorer. That’s what he is at this point. More importantly, that’s what everyone says he is. It’ll take a lot for a team to commit to him as a full-time starting shooting guard … In other preseason action, Memphis beatdown Real Madrid by a dozen behind a huge night from Rudy Gay (27 points). After coming off the shoulder injury that knocked him out of the 2010 Playoffs, we expected last year would be his breakout one. Instead, Gay and the Grizzlies spent the year moving in circles. Is this the year he finally makes an All-Star Team? … San Antonio blew out Montepaschi Siena, 106-77, despite Kawhi Leonard being the only player on their roster to play more than 20 minutes … Ty Lawson‘s driving layup just before the buzzer gave the Nuggets a 106-104 win over the Clippers despite 25 points from Eric Bledsoe … And Marc Stein of ESPN.com is reporting Jrue Holiday and Lawson will likely get extensions soon while Brandon Jennings and DeMar DeRozan won’t. Holiday and Lawson are two of the league’s most underrated players, and both are perfect fits in their current situations, so no one can be surprised to see their respective squads lock them up. And DeRozan, while talented, isn’t quite deserving of a bigger money deal at this point, especially after he regressed so noticeably last year. But what about Jennings? Well, his problem is he wants max money, and he’s barking up the wrong tree. If you’re Milwaukee, why give Jennings a max deal to become your franchise player in a smaller market? It’s not worth it. They’re smart to hold off and hold on to their options … We’re out like Charlotte’s new floor.
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