Kurt: J.R. would've behaved if I was on team

Kurt Thomas believes the J.R. Smith shoelace saga never would have happened last season if he and other veterans were on the roster.

“I don’t think so, I don’t think that’s something that would happen,” Thomas said Monday night on Anthony Donahue’s Internet radio show on The Knicks Blog. “Especially if you have a veteran guy to pull him to the side, to get in his ear, to let him know the importance of him staying focused on the task at hand and that’s his job to go out there and to perform on the highest level.”

The Knicks’ lack of leadership was often discussed as a driving force behind their disastrous 37-win season.

The year before, New York won 54 games and a division title with Thomas, Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Jason Kidd on the roster.

But owner James Dolan wanted younger players on the roster last season. So Camby, Wallace and Thomas were not brought back. Kidd retired to coach the Nets. None of last season's Knicks seemed prepared to take on a strong leadership role, and the team sputtered through a forgettable season.

“When you have a bunch of young guys you don’t really see that much looking out for one another so it’s important to have veteran guys,” Thomas told Donahue. “... When you have someone like Jason, Rasheed, Marcus -- these are great guys that have a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge of the game and are willing to share it.”

It will be interesting to see who fills the Knicks’ leadership roles this season. Admittedly, this is something the media likes to write and speculate about. But only those in the locker room at all times know the true leaders. Players will sometimes talk about great leaders on a particular team, but they will rarely say that a team lacks veteran leadership.

Thomas strongly believes that successful teams have a strong leadership quotient.

“That’s the thing a lot of people don’t understand, especially when you’re playing professional sports: how important it is to have veteran players on your team,” Thomas told Donahue. “How they’re able to get you through those moments or through that stretch of the season when you’re in a funk and it’s just about guys staying together, being able to lift each other up, staying together collectively as a team, and going out there night in and night out and trying to achieve that common goal.”

Click here to listen to Thomas' full interview with Donahue.

Metta's new shoe: Ex-Knick Metta World Peace reportedly will be wearing an interesting shoe this season in China.... Another ex-Knick, Darko Milicic, reportedly has decided to pursue a career in kickboxing. Milicic is most famously known for being drafted ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Question: Who do you think the Knicks can count on as a leader this season?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.