The NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year, will likely have a new home next season. J.R. Smith has informed the New York Knicks that he will decline his contract option for the 2013-14 season and become a free agent.
Smith was due to make $2.9 million, and the Knicks can offer him a four-year contract that would start at $5 million per season and would include standard yearly raises using the Early Bird exception. It’s not known if that will be enough to keep the 27-year-old guard.
Smith is from New Jersey and is a longtime teammate of Carmelo Anthony, so that may sway his decision. He had the best season of his career in 2012-13, as he set career-highs in points (18.1), rebounds (5.3) and minutes (33.5) per game in 80 regular season contests.
Retaining Smith is the Knicks’ top priority this offseason, despite the fact that he was fairly awful in the playoffs, making just 33 percent of his shots.
Teams with more cap room can off Smith bigger deals and possibly a chance to start, but the nine-year veteran has said he values the relationship he has with Knicks head coach Mike Woodson. Playing in New York also allows Smith to be near his family.
When all is said and done I think Smith winds up back with the Knicks. He had his best season with the team and finally looked comfortable on the court in Woodson’s system. Plus his solid relationship with Anthony will definitely have some pull.