J.R. Smith has always been known to cause controversy, but this time, his off-the-court issues could take a chunk out of his wallet. The 30 year-old Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard is being sued for $2.5 million after an encounter that occurred in New York last November.
Smith, a 13-year veteran, allegedly choked and struck a teenager after being asked to take a photo. Justin Brown, a 19-year-old at the time, approached Smith at a pizza shop in the early morning. Brown is suing for emotional distress along with physical injuries — a suit that Smith’s party believes is a monetary plot.
Smith’s attorney, Alex Spiro, revealed that the group could file a counterclaim in the wake of these accusations.
“If they have the audacity to file a frivolous claim against J.R., we will counterclaim for defamation and defend the suit aggressively,” Spiro said. “This was a cash grab from the start.”
During his professional career, Smith has played for the Hornets, Nuggets, Knicks and Cavs, along with a brief stint in China with the Zheijang Golden Bulls. The 18th overall pick in the 2004 draft is averaging 12.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists this season.
This is not the first time Smith has been involved with the law. He is notorious for late-night partying and in 2007, Smith pled guilty to driving recklessly and was suspended by the NBA. Smith was also cited for riding a motor-scooter without a helmet and was eventually arrested after failing to appear in court.
With LeBron James’ recent odd behavior, the last thing Cleveland wants to deal with is more player drama. The team sitting atop the Eastern Conference can only hope to get things together before the playoffs begin.