Chris Smith RumorsAll NBA Players
Utah will host another pre-draft workout Sunday, including Utah State guard Chris Smith, Wichita State guard Ron Baker, USC forward Nikola Jovanovic, Wake Forest guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, Spain center Jordan Sakho and California guard Tyrone Wallace.
While his brother J.R. prepares for a turn in the Finals for the first time in 11 seasons, Chris finds himself still trying to erase a reputation that saw him mocked around the NBA and become a scapegoat for much of the losing that has afflicted the Knicks in recent years. But now, J.R., who has endured his fair share of criticism for ill-advised shots, elbows, tweets and more, has found nirvana in Cleveland, excelling as the team’s sixth man on the biggest stage of his career. And younger brother Chris, who’s played in only two NBA games, finds himself hoping to get a call back to the NBA. “I texted [J.R.] a couple weeks ago and said, ‘This is our year,'” Smith said. “‘This is our chance to win. I’m going to win in my aspects and you’re going to win a championship.’ That’s exactly what I told him.”
The media in New York City was tough on Smith and the Knicks, and fans sent him harsh messages on social media, including, “You killed the Knicks season” and “I hope you die.” “I didn’t really get scared,” Smith said. “I would just say some stuff back like ‘I’m going to pray for you.’ Then I stopped responding because it was causing too much stress.” That stress came in the form of panic and anxiety attacks, fueled by not only fans and reporters, but the self-imposed pressure to live up to J.R. and his Knicks contract. On the court and at his apartment, there were moments when Smith couldn’t breathe, overthinking how people perceived him and feeling uneasy about his future. “I started having bad anxiety attacks,” Smith said. “I called my parents in the middle of the night, waking up drenched in sweat. They would tell me, ‘You’ve got to relax, you’ve got to relax.'”
Smith’s challenging personal and professional journey for now, though, has him in Las Vegas, where he’s training about six days a week. The next steps for him would be a summer league opportunity, which could come after the draft, and then a training camp invite this fall. “If Chris shows that he’s changed and he’s got it together, somebody will give him a chance,” said Andrew Moore, director of professional player development at Impact Basketball, where Smith does most of his working out. “No one wants to miss on a guy that they had written off this early in their career, so I think everybody is always open. But it’s going to be a war for him. Nothing will be handed to him, so he understands the odds are against him.”