Smith with the Cavaliers in February 2018
|No. 5 – Cleveland Cavaliers|
September 9, 1985|
Freehold Borough, New Jersey
|Listed height||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Listed weight||225 lb (102 kg)|
(Lakewood, New Jersey)
St. Benedict's Prep
(Newark, New Jersey)
|NBA draft||2004 / Round: 1 / Pick: 18th overall|
|Selected by the New Orleans Hornets|
|2004–2006||New Orleans Hornets[a]|
|2011–2012||Zhejiang Golden Bulls|
|2012–2015||New York Knicks|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Earl Joseph "J. R." Smith III (born September 9, 1985) is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played high school basketball at New Jersey basketball powerhouse Saint Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark. He entered the NBA out of high school after being selected in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft with the 18th overall pick by the New Orleans Hornets (now known as the New Orleans Pelicans). Over his NBA career, Smith has also played for the Hornets, Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks. Smith also played overseas for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association due to the 2011 NBA lockout. Smith played for the Cavaliers when the team won the 2016 NBA championship over the Golden State Warriors.
Smith grew up in the Clarksburg section of Millstone Township, New Jersey, where he attended Millstone Middle School and graduated in 1999. From there, he moved on to Steinert High School and McCorristin Catholic High School before transferring to Lakewood High School. Smith played high school basketball for the first time at Lakewood High School. He later transferred to Saint Benedict's Preparatory School and played basketball there as well. During his career there, he averaged over 27 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. In the fall of 2003, Smith signed a letter of intent to play college basketball with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
In April 2004, following a 25-point performance at the McDonald's All-American Game (in which he was named game co-MVP with Dwight Howard), Smith decided to forgo college and declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. He was selected eighteenth overall, in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft, by the New Orleans Hornets—one of nine players who were drafted that year out of high school.
In his rookie season with the Hornets, Smith averaged 10.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Smith participated in the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk Competition in 2005, finishing behind Amar'e Stoudemire and the eventual winner, Josh Smith. The Hornets finished the season at 18–64 and failed to qualify for the playoffs. Smith was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month three consecutive times in 2005: in January, February and March.
In his second season in New Orleans, Smith's numbers declined across the board, averaging 7.7 points, 2 rebounds and 1.1 assists. The Hornets spent part of the season in Oklahoma City because of Hurricane Katrina. The Hornets finished 38–44, helped by the playmaking ability of rookie Chris Paul; despite the 20-game improvement, they again missed the playoffs.
On July 14, 2006, the Hornets traded Smith and forward–center P. J. Brown to the Chicago Bulls for center Tyson Chandler. On July 20, Smith was traded again, this time to the Denver Nuggets for guard Howard Eisley and two 2007 second-round draft picks.
On December 16, 2006, Smith was involved in the Knicks–Nuggets brawl. The brawl began when Mardy Collins flagrantly fouled Smith on a fast break. Smith was suspended for 10 games. On February 20, 2007, Smith suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee which required surgery; he missed several weeks. Smith averaged 13 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in his first season with the Nuggets.
Smith's first trip to the playoffs during the 2006–07 season proved disappointing. Smith, a 39% three-point shooter during the regular season, failed to connect on any three-point shots in the first four games and was criticized for poor decision-making by coach George Karl. After game four, Karl informed reporters of his plan to bench Smith for all of game 5. Karl said, "He's done", and explained his frustrations over Smith's poor judgment in shooting a three late in the game, "I have no idea what planet that came from." Karl told the Associated Press that he had drawn up the play to give the ball to either Allen Iverson or Carmelo Anthony. Karl continued, "And then, of course the one with eight seconds to go, from 50 feet, I just love the dignity of the game being insulted right in front of me."
On October 13, 2007, Smith was involved in an incident at a Denver nightclub. The Nuggets suspended him for the first three regular-season games of 2007–08 for his role in the incident. During the season, Smith averaged 12.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
In Smith's second trip to the playoffs, during a first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, he played 27.0 minutes, averaging 18.3 points per game on 53.5% shooting. He also had a 31.8% three-point shooting percentage; however, the Nuggets were swept in the series.
On July 25, 2008, Smith was added to the Team USA Basketball select team to help the senior team prepare for the Olympics.
On April 13, 2009, Smith scored an NBA career-high 45 points on 13-of-22 shooting, as part of a 118–98 home win over the Sacramento Kings. He made a franchise-record 11 three-pointers during the game, which was one shy of tying the NBA record.
On his third trip to the playoffs, Smith averaged 14.9 points per game on 45.4% shooting. He helped the Nuggets make the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Lakers.
For the 2009–10 season, Smith and teammate Chauncey Billups agreed to change jersey numbers. Smith changed to the No. 5 jersey, in order to accommodate Billups' request to wear No. 1, the same number Billups wore with the Detroit Pistons. On December 23, Smith scored 41 points against the Atlanta Hawks which included 10 three-pointers, one shy of his record. Smith shot 10-of-17 from 3-point range.
He finished the 2009–10 season with the second-most three-pointers in the league off the bench. Smith also averaged 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists. The Nuggets, however, once again exited the playoffs early. The 2010–11 season was a season of change for the Nuggets, who traded Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Smith played his familiar sixth-man role and averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
During the 2011 NBA lockout, Smith signed with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Because he did not secure an opt-out clause, he could not return to the NBA until the end of the 2011–12 CBA season.
On February 1, 2012, Smith scored a CBA career-high 60 points and 14 three-pointers in 18 attempts off the bench, during a 122–110 victory over the Qingdao Eagles. Two days later, he netted 41 points off the bench in a narrow 119–115 triumph over the Shandong Lions.
During his time with the Golden Bulls, Smith won a Foreign Player of the Week award, and was selected as a starter for the Southern Division All-Stars in the 2012 CBA All-Star Game, but did not play due to "personal reasons."
Individual accolades notwithstanding, Smith was unable to lead Zhejiang into the 2012 CBA Playoffs, with the squad eliminated from contention as of February 12.
In 2012, after playing in China due to the lockout, Smith signed with the New York Knicks under the bi-annual exception worth $2.4 million. Smith made his Knicks debut against the Dallas Mavericks. He scored 15 points and drained three three-pointers in the first quarter in a Knicks win. After struggling most of the season to shoot the three-pointer, the Knicks greatly improved because of Smith and the emergence of Steve Novak. Smith became a fan favorite, gaining comparisons to John Starks. He averaged 12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a career high 1.5 steals per game with the Knicks that season. The Knicks faced the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, but lost 4–1. Smith averaged 12.2 points but only shot 31.6% from the field and 17.9% from three-point range.
On July 11, the Knicks and Smith agreed to a $2.8 million contract with a player option. The Knicks were allowed to give Smith a 20% increase on his salary. Smith said he had larger offers from other teams, but chose to remain with New York because he wanted to stay close to home and have a chance at a championship.
On December 5, 2012, Smith hit the game-winning, fadeaway jump shot in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats as time expired for a 100–98 win. In similar fashion, on December 26, 2012 with one second remaining in regulation, Smith connected on a shot that gave the Knicks a 99–97 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Smith scored 27 points as the Knicks won without Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton.
On March 7, 2013, Smith scored 36 points in a losing effort, 95–94, to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In an April 7 rematch, Smith scored 22 points, five of which came in the closing minutes to put the game out of reach for the Thunder and give the Knicks their 50th win of the season for the first time since 2000. On March 26, Smith scored 32 points against the Boston Celtics as the Knicks routed the Celtics 100–85 at TD Garden. On April 12, Smith scored 31 points on 13-for-16 shooting (81%) to lead the Knicks to a 101–91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Smith was awarded the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award for the 2013 season. He was the first Knick to win the award since John Starks, who did it in the 1996–97 season. He averaged a career high 18.1 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 2.7 assists per game, and 1.3 steals per game in 33.5 minutes per game during the 2012–13 season. He played 80 games during the season.
On July 11, 2013, Smith re-signed with the Knicks. The contract was reported to be worth $17.95 million over three years. Smith underwent surgery on July 15, 2013 to repair a patellar tendon and a torn meniscus, both in his left knee.
On September 6, 2013, Smith was suspended five games for violating the NBA's anti-drug program. The suspension was without pay and did not start until he was fit to play after knee surgery.
On January 8, 2014, Smith was fined $50,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct after repeated instances in which he attempted to untie the shoelaces of his opponents.
On April 6, 2014, Smith recorded an NBA record 22 three-point attempts in a 102–91 loss to the Miami Heat. He also recorded a new Knicks' record with 10 made three-pointers. Smith was 11-for-28 from the floor, 10-for-22 from beyond the arc, and took 10 threes in the fourth quarter alone. The single-game mark was previously held by Damon Stoudamire, who attempted 21 threes on April 15, 2005. Smith finished the game with 32 points.
On January 5, 2015, Smith was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team trade that also involved the Knicks and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cleveland received Smith and Iman Shumpert from the Knicks and a first-round pick in the 2015 NBA draft from the Thunder, while Cleveland sent Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City and Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk, and a 2019 second-round draft pick to the Knicks, and the Thunder sent Lance Thomas to the Knicks. Two days later, he made his debut for the Cavaliers in a loss to the Houston Rockets.
On April 27, 2015, Smith was suspended for the first two games of the Eastern Conference semi-finals after he swung his arm and made contact with the head of Celtics forward Jae Crowder in Game 4 of their first-round series against Boston. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks on May 20, Smith set a Cavaliers franchise playoff record with eight three-pointers as he finished the game with 28 points off the bench to help lead the Cavs to a 97–89 win. Smith helped the Cavaliers sweep the Hawks and reach the NBA Finals for just the second time in franchise history. The Cavaliers faced the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 NBA Finals, but they lost the series in six games.
On September 2, 2015, Smith re-signed with the Cavaliers. On November 23, 2015, he scored a then season-high 26 points in a 117–103 win over the Orlando Magic. On January 2, 2016, in another win over the Magic, Smith hit one three-pointer which moved him past Nick Van Exel (1,528) for 22nd place on the all-time three-pointers-made list. Two days later, he scored 24 points on eight three-pointers in a 122–100 win over the Toronto Raptors. On January 8, he scored a season-high 27 points in a 125–99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He matched his season high of 27 points on April 3 in a 112–103 win over the Charlotte Hornets. In Game 2 of the Cavaliers' first-round playoff series match-up with the Detroit Pistons, Smith scored 21 points and made seven of Cleveland's NBA playoff record-tying 20 three-pointers in a 107–90 win. After sweeping Detroit, they moved on to the second round, where in Game 2 of their series against the Atlanta Hawks, Smith hit seven of the Cavaliers' NBA record 25 three-pointers (the most in any regular season or playoff game) to help Cleveland take a 2–0 series lead over the Hawks. The Cavaliers went on to sweep the Hawks, and then defeated the Toronto Raptors 4–2 in the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the 2016 NBA Finals. In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, with the Cavaliers down 2–0 to the Golden State Warriors, Smith scored 20 points in a 120–90 win to help the Cavaliers cut the deficit to 2–1. The Cavaliers went on to win the 2016 NBA championship, despite going down 3–1 in the series following a Game 4 loss, as Smith won his first NBA title.
On October 15, 2016, Smith re-signed with the Cavaliers to a reported four-year, $57 million contract. On November 1, 2016, in a win over the Houston Rockets, Smith hit his 344th three-pointer, passing Damon Jones for ninth place on the team's all-time list. On November 18, he hit three three-pointers against the Detroit Pistons to move past Dirk Nowitzki into 15th place on the NBA's career list for three-pointers. On December 13, Smith, having been in a season-long shooting slump, scored 17 of his season-high 23 points in the first half of the Cavaliers' 103–86 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. He came into the game shooting a career-low 31 percent from the field and 32 percent on three-pointers, the lowest mark since his rookie season with New Orleans in 2004. He finished the game with 8-of-17 from the field and 6-of-10 on 3s, passing Dale Ellis (1,719) for 14th on the career three-pointer list. On December 20, in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Smith suffered a fractured right thumb that required surgery. Three days later, he was ruled out for 12-14 weeks. He made his return to the line-up on March 9, 2017, scoring three points on 1-of-9 shooting off the bench in a 106–101 loss to the Detroit Pistons. Smith helped the Cavaliers go 12–1 over the first three rounds of the playoffs to reach the NBA Finals for a third straight season. There the Cavaliers matched-up with the Golden State Warriors, but lost the series in five games.
Smith struggled over the first 10 games of the 2017–18 season. He got it going on November 7, scoring a season-high 20 points on 5-of-7 3-pointers in a 124–119 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, passing Rashard Lewis (1,787) for 14th place on the NBA's career 3-pointers made list. On December 14, in a 121–112 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Smith passed Chauncey Billups (1,830) for 11th place on the NBA's career 3-pointers made list. On March 2, 2018, Smith was suspended for one game for throwing a bowl of soup at Cavaliers assistant coach Damon Jones. During Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors, Smith got a free-throw rebound with 4.7 seconds left in regulation time. The game was tied, meaning that a field goal would have won the game. Smith, apparently confused and thinking the Cavaliers were winning, attempted to dribble out the clock before realizing his error and passing to George Hill with 1.2 seconds left. The Cavaliers lost 124–114 in overtime. In a post-game interview, Smith initially claimed to have known it was a tie game. He later backtracked, saying, “After thinking about it a lot... I can’t say I was sure of anything at that point."
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Denotes seasons in which Smith won an NBA championship|
Smith is son of Ida and Earl Smith, and has three brothers and two sisters. His younger brother Chris played at Manhattan and Louisville and then briefly played alongside him on the Knicks in 2013–14. His younger brother Dimitrius played football at Monmouth University.
In August 2016, Smith married Jewel Harris; the couple has three daughters, Demi, Peyton, and Dakota. Dakota was born in January 2017, weighing one pound at her birth. Former teammates Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul are the godfathers of his first two daughters.
On February 2, 2007, Smith and teammate Carmelo Anthony were involved in a car accident. Neither player was injured in the collision. The only detail released by the team was that the car Smith was driving belonged to Anthony.
On June 9, 2007, Smith and two passengers were injured in a car accident on Stagecoach Road in Millstone Township, New Jersey, when the SUV he was driving collided with another car. Smith and a passenger, Andre Bell, were ejected from the vehicle at around 5:30 p.m. Smith's vehicle went through a stop sign and collided with the other car. Smith was taken to Jersey Shore University Hospital. Bell suffered serious head injuries before being pronounced dead on the night of June 11. Neither Smith nor the second passenger suffered life-threatening injuries. Smith and Bell were not wearing seatbelts at the time. In October 2008, a grand jury in Monmouth County, New Jersey, declined to indict Smith on a vehicular manslaughter charge stemming from the accident.
On June 30, 2009, Smith pleaded guilty to the June 2007 accident. Smith was initially sentenced to 90 days in a Monmouth County (N.J.) jail, but 60 of those days were suspended, on the condition that he complete 500 hours of community service. On July 31, 2009, The Denver Post reported that Smith was released from jail after serving 24 days of his sentence.
On August 28, 2009, Smith was suspended seven games for the 2009–10 NBA season because of his guilty plea in the 2007 reckless driving incident. The NBA also cited his poor driving record as grounds for the suspension. Smith's driving record included five suspensions in eight months, but was "in good standing" at the time of the crash in New Jersey. He was required to pay restoration fees and fines. Smith totaled 27 points against his record from April 2005 to January 2006, including eight violations on seven different days. Five citations were for speeding. Since the accident, he has received two more speeding tickets and three license suspensions in New Jersey.
On August 5, 2009, Smith closed his Twitter account (jr_smith1) because he was accused of writing in a way that reflected the Bloods gang, specifically replacing his c's with k's.
In March 2012, Smith was fined $25,000 by the NBA for posting a picture of model Tahiry Jose on his Twitter account. In May 2012, Smith was arrested in Miami Beach, Florida for failing to appear in court in 2011 after he was cited for operating a motor-scooter with no valid license. The following month, he sued his former team, the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, for $1 million after the team withheld that amount from his salary claiming he missed many practices and faked an injury.
During the celebrations after the 2016 NBA Finals victory, Smith was spotted multiple times without a T-shirt. During President Barack Obama's congratulatory call to head coach Tyronn Lue, Obama made a reference to Smith's lack of shirt. As a result of this fame around being shirtless, Smith commissioned a T-shirt of his torso.
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