J.R. hopes brother makes Knicks on 'talent'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson said earlier this week that Chris Smith's relationship with J.R. Smith, his older brother, will factor into whether the team keeps Chris on the 15-man roster.

But J.R. Smith, older by two years, hopes that isn't the case.

"I don't want that to come into play because that's a crutch for him and that's an excuse for him to make the team," J.R. Smith said on Thursday. "I think that he should make the team based off his own talent and his own ability. Don't get me wrong -- he's still my brother at the end of the day, but I think his talent should set that apart."

The Knicks' hierarchy, including Woodson, general manager Steve Mills and owner James Dolan, is expected to meet either Thursday night or before Friday's game to discuss making cuts to the roster.

One of the most interesting discussions will likely be centered around Chris Smith.

Woodson said Thursday that Chris' relationship with J.R. will play a role in the team's decision to keep or cut Chris.

"I look at him just like I look at J.R., though J.R. is the guy who played in a uniform and has been very productive for us," Woodson said. "I have a great deal of respect for that family. That's his brother, I respect that."

The Knicks have 12 players under guaranteed contracts and three open roster spots. Guard Toure' Murry, who is on a non-guaranteed contract, has had a strong training camp. If the Knicks keep Chris Smith on the roster, it will be interesting to see what they choose to do with Murry.

One thing to consider when thinking about Chris: He and his brother are both CAA clients. CAA has close ties to the Knicks and Madison Square Garden.

Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, Woodson, assistant GM Allan Houston and front office member Mark Warkentien are represented by the agency.

For what it's worth, J.R. Smith believes his younger brother has a "great chance" to make the team on talent alone.

"We want to be a defensive ballclub and I think he's a great defensive-minded player," Smith said Thursday. "He puts a lot of pressure on the ball when he guards it and he just flat-out likes to guard people ... hopefully he does make it."

J.R. Smith added that his brother is in a "tough" situation as he attempts to make the same NBA team that employs his big brother.

"Chris has always been the underdog in our family. I had pretty much tough shoes to fill. I think he's handled that well," J.R. Smith said. "He went to college, got a degree. He's achieved stuff that I haven't achieved and I've achieved stuff he hasn't achieved so I think it goes hand in hand with us. But it's a tough seat to be in, to be on the same team as your brother in the preseason and to go through that process, whether he's going to stay or get cut."

If Chris Smith makes the 15-man roster, he will likely play for the Knicks' D-League team, the Erie Bayhawks.

MIKE: GET USED TO MELO-BARGS PAIRING: The defensive pairing of Anthony at power forward and Bargnani at center hasn't fared so well on defense in the preseason.

But those struggles are apparently something that Woodson can live with.

"That can be a lineup that can easily happen when we go with Melo at the 4," Woodson said Thursday. "Melo will play some 4 this year."

TYLER ON COURT: Jeremy Tyler was on the side at practice Thursday, shooting around without his walking boot on.

It was the first time that Tyler, the 6-foot-10 big man, has been spotted without it.

But Woodson said that the free-agent signee is "a ways away" from getting back on the court. Tyler underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot before camp. He is expected to be out until mid November. Woodson has hinted strongly in recent days that Tyler will make the 15-man roster.

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