As expected, New York Knicks sixth man J.R. Smith officially hit the open market Tuesday afternoon.
After a big year in which Smith won the Sixth Man of the Year Award, it was expected that he would opt out of the second year of his two-year contract signed prior to last season.
Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com confirms that’s indeed the case, reporting that Smith will officially announce his decision to turn down his player option prior to the June 30th deadline. According to Zwerling though, the Sixth Man of the Year is “likely” to re-sign with the Knicks.
That’s both good and bad news, depending on how you feel about Smith and his Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde performances.
Although Smith has said that he wanted to retire as a Knick, I still don’t view it as a total slam dunk he re-signs, although it does appear likely.
The Knicks will be eligible to sign Smith to a contract for up to four years, starting at an amount worth 104.5 percent of the average salary in the league. That exact figure won’t be known until July, but it should exceed $5 million so Smith could guarantee himself a total payday of about $20 million if he and the Knicks were to agree to a long-term deal.
It was originally felt that some teams with cap room could offer him a deal that would start at about $8 million per season, which would be tough for him to turn down despite his love for the Knicks.
However his value likely took a hit after his abysmal postseason, which likely means there won’t be as many teams willing to throw big dollars his way.
Despite that fact, there should still be two or three teams willing to outbid the Knicks and possibly offer Smith a chance to start.
If that’s the case, it will be very interesting to follow the Smith rumors this offseason.
But the bottom line is that Smith has thrived in a Knicks uniform and it ultimately may be worth sacrificing a few dollars to stay in the Big Apple.
Plus the night life is better in New York and we all know that’s a big selling point for the Sixth Man of the Year.
While it may be interesting, ultimately I believe that Smith will end up back in New York when it is all said and done.