As speculation ramps up about where Carmelo Anthony will be traded (not if), ugly reports have surfaced about another Denver Nugget who may not be long for the team: J.R. Smith.
But Smith attorney David Lane says assault accusations made against him are without merit and predicts they'll go nowhere.
"There are allegations out there that the so-called victim is just looking to shake down the Nuggets and J.R.," Lane maintains.
The story? On Wednesday evening, AOL Fanhouse's Sam Amick wrote that a practice player, former Colorado 14ers guard Damien Lolar, had been encouraged to be physical with Smith at Nuggets scrimmage earlier this month. J.R. allegedly took exception to the strategy and choked Lolar, who then called the police.
The Denver District Attorney's Office declined to press charges in the case -- but yesterday, Amick quoted DPD spokesman Detective John White saying the investigation had been re-opened based on "new evidence."
Lane, whose notable clients have included Ward Churchill, Richard "Balloon Boy Dad" Heene, Timothy Masters and Douglas Bruce, can't confirm that -- but he doesn't see the justification for such an action.
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"No charges have been filed," he stresses, "and the police have already fully investigated this case, based on my preliminary investigation. Police questioned witnesses extensively -- and with ten guys on a basketball court and a lot of people standing around on the sidelines, there were no shortage of witnesses." In addition, "the DA's office looked at it and said, 'There's no case here. Don't file.'"
It is possible the team might see this incident as a welcome excuse to finally ship J.R. out of town? After all, Smith has had a slew of issues over the past year or two: a brief jail sentence for a 2007 crash that killed a friend, suggestions that some of his tweets contained subtle gang messages, the robbery of what he described as $15,000 in gambling money, a suspension last January for sulking on the bench.
"Not at all," Lane responds. "I think just the opposite. The Nuggets are not at all happy with this development, and they believe that given the number of witnesses talked to by the police, the only reason the case has been reopened is because it's J.R. Smith. The police are making this into a high-profile deal."
His assessment of the incident? "A little skirmish on a basketball court probably happens on every court that exists in America today. And it simply doesn't rise to the level of criminal activity."