Yesterday I dove into why the New York Knicks were foolish to give Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith a four-year deal based not only on performance, but the fact that they knowingly knew he was headed to knee surgery.
Apparently I’m not the only one who thought that was a crazy idea as the Knicks did as well.
With the signing of Smith now official, the Knicks have finally addressed his situation and as it turns out his new contract is for three years and $17.95 million, with the third year a player option, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times.
That deal makes sense for both the Knicks and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
All along I complained about this deal because it didn’t make any sense for either side, but this one I can live with.
Beck also reported that the sides originally agreed on a four-year deal worth the maximum $24,764,250 million, being that the Knicks had Smith’s Early Bird Rights.
Smith can now opt out of the deal after two years which he would certainly do, which would make him a free agent sooner.
The Knicks will then have his full Bird Rights.
That’s huge for the Knicks, which was my complaint all along.
The team will have next to no money on the books for the 2015 season. It didn’t make any sense for them to handcuff themselves financially.
Now they can re-evaluate whether or not they can win with a player like Smith in two years instead of being stuck with him for four. Given the fact that he is a bench player and given his history both on and off the floor, his value on the open market won’t go up too much. If he has a great two years and it does, then the Knicks are in great shape as they would be able to exceed the salary cap to retain him.
If not, there’s no harm in letting him walk as judging by the looks of things the Knicks could be starting over in 2015 as they only have the $4.54 million salary of Raymond Felton on the books for the 2015-16 campaign. Iman Shumpert will certainly receive a $3.9 million qualifying offer that offseason and likely will be extended. Tim Hardaway Jr. also has a $1.3 million team option that will likely be picked up and that is all that the Knicks will have on the books.
Even if Carmelo Anthony decided to opt out of his contract after this season, the Knicks will be able to offer him a max deal for five years.
But as long as the Knicks don’t have any other foolish contracts on their hands, they should be able to land a max free agent or possibly two for that offseason.
This new contract for Smith could allow them to do exactly that.
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.