Knicks coach David Fizdale said last month that he'd like to see guard Dennis Smith Jr. improve his shooting and conditioning. And that's exactly what Smith Jr. plans to work on this summer.
"He's focused on shooting and conditioning, 1000 percent," Smith Jr.'s longtime trainer, Shawn Farmer, said in a phone interview Friday with SNY.
Smith Jr., who suffered a minor ankle injury recently, will work to make some changes to his shooting form this summer, both under the guidance of Knicks coaches and on his own.
"Besides repetition with his shooting, he's going to do some mechanical tweaks. He's realized that there are some things in his mechanics that have to change," Farmer said of Smith Jr., who shot 42 percent overall and 32 percent from behind the arc last season. "From what I'm hearing, he's going to work with a couple of the Knicks assistant coaches. And he's going to do some stuff on his own, which is to be determined. But his main focus is mechanics."
Knicks top assistant coach Keith Smith has been working with Smith Jr.
Below is a brief Q&A with Farmer on Smith's conditioning, potentially playing with Kevin Durant and whether or not Smith Jr., the best player the Knicks received in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, pays attention to potential trade rumors.
Q: What are Smith Jr.'s goals with his conditioning?
A: "His goal, from just talking to his dad, is to be in the best shape of his life. Being in shape, some guys think they're in shape but then when you start playing an 82-game season, then you realize, 'Hey I'm not really not in shape like I thought I was.' .... So he's definitely on board with trying to be the most well-conditioned athlete on the floor."
Q: How do you think he would fit with RJ Barrett, a likely pick for the Knicks at No. 3?
A: "First and foremost, Dennis Smith can play with dinosaurs (laughs). He can play with anybody. We can go down to the elderly home and he can play with them. I've seen this kid since 6th grade, with players that are talented, not as talented, and I've seen him make them better. He wouldn't have an issue playing with anybody."
Q: What about his potential fit with Kevin Durant?
A: "I think that could take Dennis' game to another level. He has a lot of respect for the superstars in the league. Dennis would welcome any advice, especially from someone from Kevin Durant's caliber. Junior will listen to anybody; he has a filter where he can decipher what's good for him and what's not. So I'm sure with all the experience that KD has in the league, and the success that he's had, Junior will probably be sitting at his locker every day. Or asking to go out to dinner. Because Junior wants to be great. I don't understand why people think he just plays the game to play the game.Even though he's not having the (kind of production in previous) years that he's wanted, he still thinks that he's one of the best players out there."
Q: There's been so much discussion among fans and media about which point guards the Knicks may sign in free agency. Does Dennis pay attention to any of that?
A: "I haven't been around him a lot (lately). But from the time I've been around (Smith Jr. in New York) going to games, Dennis doesn't even mention that stuff. Dennis is trying to be the best basketball player that he can be for the New York Knicks. He don't think about trade scenarios, he don't think about who's coming in because he's a team player. He allows the powers that be to do their job and he focuses on his job, period. That's who he is."
Q: So the speculation from fans and media that he'd be a part of a trade package in a deal for Anthony Davis - that's not on his radar?
A: "I've never heard Junior say anything about trade rumors. I haven't heard that. For whoever is reading this, he's the type of kid who controls what he can control. And right now, what he can control is getting in better shape and being a better shooter and being a better player, totally. He doesn't put energy toward (trade rumors). Of course, he hears it. I think he lives on the planet Earth, so it's kind of hard with all of this social media stuff. Does he dwell on it? No. Does he lose sleep over it? No."