It’s no secret that New York Knicks sixth man J.R. Smith has had an outstanding season and has made quite the impact on this Knicks team as they strive for an NBA Championship.
The result was Smith winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award on Monday.
It’s also no secret that Smith can opt out of his current contract and will likely cash in off of his big 2012-13 season. That alone will put the Knicks in a tough spot when the offseason rolls around.
But if Smith has it his way, he will be wearing a Knicks uniform for the rest of his career, which is fantastic news for Knicks fans.
Other teams will be able to give Smith more money on a new contract than the Knicks could, since the team only possesses Bird rights on him, but Smith said on ESPN’s SportsCenter today that he would like to stay in New York, as Jared Zwerling and Ian Begley note.
“Without a doubt,” the 27-year-old swingman said. ”I was born in New Jersey, born and raised. I would love to retire a Knick.”
The Knicks have financial commitments that would almost certainly make them a taxpaying team next season, so the best they could do for Smith would be to use his Early Bird rights to give him 104.5 percent of this season’s average salary. That number won’t be released until after the season, but it is currently estimated to be $5.276million. That means the most the Knicks could pay Smith next season would be $5.5 million
The Knicks also wouldn’t be able to backload the contract as it would be limited to raises of no more than 7.5 percent.
On the open market Smith would likely command between $8 and $9 million from a team with cap space, so it will be interesting to see how his situation plays out.
But the fact that he has played better in New York than anywhere else and has developed a relationship with Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson could mean a lot more than money.
Smith has grown as a player in New York and it would be a shame to see him leave.
He’s also grown as a person, which was never more evident than when he admitted during his press conference that he knew he was viewed as a selfish player and wanted to do his best to change that reputation this season.
But when it comes to free agency money usually speaks the loudest and it would be hard to fault Smith for chasing as much as he could get.
But there’s something about playing at home and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see him sacrifice some money to remain a Knick for the rest of his career.
Only time will tell how his contract situation plays out, but there are more important things on his mind right now, like taking a 2-0 lead over the Boston Celtics Tuesday night.
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.