JR Smith is playing a sport he now loves: golf. After returning to school and becoming a part of the Aggies golf team, Smith seems okay with life outside the NBA. However, he revealed he could still play and believes he is out of the league because owners have blackballed him.
Blackballed by the NBA
JR last played in the NBA in 2020, capping it off with a championship with the L.A. Lakers. Suppose this was it for him, what an excellent way to end it all. But he still couldn't accept that no team was interested in him. The sharpshooter agreed when asked if he was "blackballed" by the NBA.
"Yeah, 100 percent. Anybody can sit here and tell you that that's a fact."
J.R. Smith, Complex
JR also mentioned that Isiah Thomas, Josh Smith, Nick Young, Jamal Crawford, and Joe Johnson were all treated the same. These players could still play, but why did they disappear? There are a lot of factors involved, for sure. But does JR have a point?
The game just evolved
The game simply evolved in a way that some players or systems would be rendered obsolete sooner than later. In the era of analytics, teams are putting a premium on the efficiency and roles of each player. JR Smith, Crawford, Smith, Thomas, and Young all have one thing in common: they were not very efficient scorers.
Yes, they could still play and make it rain on the offensive end, but their impact on the defensive end could be a factor too. So are front offices going to pay veterans who have been in the league for years instead of giving the youngsters valuable minutes and exposure at a lesser price? The game evolved so fast that the likes of Smith no longer have the same value as before. And that's not exactly a bad thing.
Only the Udonis Haslem's in the league get to play longer, even though their value has already diminished. However, front offices treat them as locker room leaders and franchise icons, so parting ways with them is more challenging.
There are various reasons why Smith and the players he mentioned are no longer in the NBA. Basketball is a young man's game; sometimes, players don't get to have the farewell tours they want. It's a bit hard to accept, but fortunately for JR Smith, he's found a new passion away from the game he loved all his life.