msgn-fallback

Meet the Knicks’ New Odd Couple

J.R. Smith came to the Knicks last spring to play with Carmelo Anthony, but this summer he was afraid of losing his favorite teammate to free agency.

“We were so nervous and scared that we weren’t going to be on the same team anymore,” Smith said.

His concern was not about parting ways with Melo, but the potential departure of Steve Novak.

Yes, Steve Novak.

“People asked me who I texted the most this summer,” Novak told me recently. “When I tell them J.R., they’re like, ‘Yeah, right.’ But it’s true. We talked all the time. He’s a great guy.”

This is some serious Felix and Oscar stuff, which is why I’ve gotten to call them “The Odd Couple” on MSG Network.

“We got so close in that little time that I got here at the end of the season last year, we had a little joke going,” Smith told MSG’s Tina Cervasio.

“Whenever he’s open, I’m on the bench or wherever I’m at yelling ‘Find him! Find him! Find him!’ Before you know it, they’re finding him and he’s hitting six or seven threes a game. I think it helped his confidence.”

Novak marveled at Smith’s unselfishness, especially considering the reputation that preceded him.

“He draws defenses so a lot of attention so when teams do decide to go double, or he makes someone help, he passes the ball so well to me,” Novak told Cervasio. “I think the fact that we’re both perimeter threats makes us hard to guard on the floor at the same time … I think we definitely complement each other well.”

Novak saw the departure of a few teammates he grew close with, Jeremy LinLandry Fields andJared Jeffries, and both he and Smith went back and forth about their own free agency situations. Eventually Novak signed a four-year deal and Smith took a two-year deal to stay together as teammates in New York.

They couldn’t be more opposite off the court; modest family man from Wisconsin meets fun-loving tattooed baller from New Jersey. It’s easily a better sitcom format than Two Broke Girls.

But despite the amusing diametric, they formed a bond that went beyond stereotypes.

“I don’t think he understood that I was like that before I got there,” Smith said. “I didn’t think people knew how close we were going to get. But just the relationship we had, Steve is so … he likes to talk, I like to talk, I mean, it makes it great for us. Especially as shooters. We do shooting drills every day after practice. It helps us on the team aspect, too.”

It creates a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch of the bench, as well. Smith may not be completely satisfied with being a reserve, but he is happy to be reunited with his favorite wingman.

The two got right back to business providing offense off the bench in the preseason opener, as Smith had 20 points and six assists and Novak had 21 points with a sizzling 7-for-7 from three-point range.

“It’s good to know,” Novak said, “I still got it.”

And Novak has more guards to find him and his golden shooting touch, with the additions ofRaymond FeltonJason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. But while you list the passers around him, Novak won’t let you forget his favorite.

“Even guys like J.R.,” Novak added. “I mean, honest to God, he has point-guard vision.”

We get it, Felix. We get it.

Melo’s Moment

There isn’t a player on this year’s dynamic U.S. men’s basketball team at the Olympics that wasn’t influenced by Jordan. Kobe Bryant has made a career out of being Jordan’s avatar. LeBron James, though his game is molded more in Magic Johnson’s likeness, carried the self-imposed weight of being the Next One since 2003 A.J. […]

The Knicks Are Back?

Frank Vogel provided nothing for the bulletin board the way Danny Granger did. The Indiana Pacers coach was complimentary of the Knicks after blowing his team out Friday night at Madison Square Garden. “This is an extremely talented team, maybe one of the most talented teams in the NBA,” Vogel said. “And they’re playing with a renewed […]

The Ever-Growing Legend of Stevie Knicks

When he merely rises from the bench and pulls off his warmup shirt, The Garden crowd begins to stir. When he simply catches the ball, the people urge him to shoot. When it goes in, it is like a religious experience. So the eight from downtown that he drained (on 10 attempts) against the Celtics in […]

The Knicks Fix: After Enlightenment, Laundry

His eyes were fixed on Jose Calderon, with his hands on his knees, watching as if he were looking through the knothole of a fence. The ball left Calderon’s hands and you could see the anxiety build in the eyes that watched the ball arc to the basket. Carmelo Anthony gave trust yet another try. […]

Knicks Unable to Slow Down Jokic