The Knicks on Monday announced they had assigned Chris Smith to their D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. The move had been expected.
It also doesn't change the complexion of the Knicks' roster. Smith is still a part of the 15-man roster, and the Knicks still will pay him his full $490,180 salary.
But the younger Smith's presence on the roster has stirred strong emotions among the team's fan base -- and, apparently, opposing players.
Detroit's Brandon Jennings engaged in a recent Twitter spat with J.R. Smith after questioning Chris Smith's NBA credentials. J.R. Smith was fined $25,000 for directing hostile and inappropriate language toward Jennings in a response tweet.
"I was definitely frustrated because you get tired of people trying to pick on your little brother, so it's my little brother, I'm going to step up for him, good, bad or ugly," J.R. Smith said when asked about the reasons behind his tweet.
The Knicks have acknowledged that Chris Smith's ties to J.R. Smith influenced the team's decision to keep the 26-year-old guard. Chris Smith, who did not play in the nine games he spent with the Knicks and was inactive for eight of them, also acknowledged that his relationship with his brother has boosted his career.
"Has it helped me? Of course. That's my big brother. People look for us to be together all the time ... He has helped me a lot," Chris Smith said last month.
But he also believes his talent has played a role in his career, and he takes issue with the idea, still espoused by many, that he's on the Knicks' roster solely because he's J.R.'s little brother.
"It bothers me a lot because I think people don't really look at my talent. They just look at, 'J.R. is here and he's been here,' " he said last month.
Chris Smith is represented by Creative Artists Agency, and that is an added layer to the Knicks' decision to keep him. CAA represents J.R. Smith as well, and it has close ties to the Knicks and Madison Square Garden.
Some rival agents believe Chris Smith's roster spot with the Knicks was locked in as a package deal when J.R. Smith re-signed with the team in July.
Chris Smith signed a nonguaranteed contract worth $490,180. According to league sources with knowledge of the contract, his deal became fully guaranteed once he made the roster.
His inclusion has affected recent personnel decisions.
The Knicks decided recently that they would not add a big man to help fill the void left by injured center Tyson Chandler, who is out four to six weeks after fracturing his right fibula in a game Nov. 8.
They would have to cut a player if they wanted to sign someone to make room on the 15-man roster. Many view Chris Smith as an obvious candidate to be cut, in part because of his subpar play in the preseason (1-for-7 shooting in 20 minutes).
The Knicks' slow start to the season has complicated matters. They have lost five straight home games and is 3-6 entering Tuesday's road game against the Detroit Pistons. A common theme after recent losses has been the players and coaching staff questioning effort.
That continued Monday, as Woodson admonished his team for its lack of effort in Saturday's 20-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
"Not good enough. Not good enough," Woodson said. "And everybody's got to be held accountable. The effort is not where it should be, because if it was, we would be in a better position."