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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11:  J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks drives to the basket against the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

j.r. smith

What a Timely Nugget of Knicks Conflict!

The Knicks are on a five-game losing streak that has included some really humiliating moments. The team's inability to cohere is in plain sight. There are murmurs of players quitting on coach Mike D'Antoni and forming locker room rifts. Basically, the Knicks don't need any help looking bad or generating vitriol. That said ... here's some help!

When the Knicks courted and eventually signed J.R. Smith, it was reported that Carmelo Anthony played a big part in the recruiting process. Not only were the two teammates in Denver (oh God, I just noticed the pun in the headline. We'll leave it.) but they employ the same agent (the lovely Leon Rose) and Anthony is a godfather to Smith's two children. Smith had this to say at the time:

“Melo really sealed the deal for me,” Smith said. “Chris Paul and Melo ... either way it really couldn’t have gone wrong. But I talked to Melo, and after playing with him in Denver and him telling me what kind of atmosphere this really was, it sealed the deal 100 percent.”

All that was reported when things were going pretty well. Now, the Knicks suck, Anthony is struggling, Smith has been dreadful since opening his Knicks career with some surprisingly versatile games, and we get this from Marc Berman of the Post:

A couple of weeks before the signing, Anthony was asked if the Knicks should sign his former teammate who has a thuggish reputation. Anthony and Smith share the same agent, Leon Rose.

“If it happens, it happens and I’ll be happy,” Anthony said publicly before the signing.

But, according to the source, Anthony was not gung-ho and was “hurt’’ Knicks upper management tossed his advice out the window.

The terms here aren't exactly clear. An earlier line claims that Anthony gave the "thumbs down to upper management," which doesn't seem equivalent to being "not gung-ho." And again, this directly opposes logic and previous reporting. That's not the point, though. The point is that one of these two things is true:

1. Berman learned of a discrepancy between Anthony's public statements and his private assertions about Smith a while ago and chose not to report it until after New York's fifth straight loss.

2. Likelier, somebody who knows Anthony decided that today of all days would be a great time to leak that bit of innuendo. You know, because the team wasn't tense and disjointed enough already.

We'll give Berman the benefit of the doubt here (or I will. You certainly don't have to.) and assume that this person "close to Anthony" has a really twisted sense of timing. In either case, why now? Why?

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images