Signed at $2.5 million, everything J.R. Smith gives New York this year is a plus. At that price, you can make it through the 1-for-7 shooting nights, especially knowing Smith could drop 25 – as he did against the Celtics on Tuesday – the following game. New York has no long-term money tied up, and no real expectations for their unpredictable swingman. In his last five games, Smith is dropping four triples a night while averaging 18.6 points off the bench, a perfect complement to Carmelo Anthony. But it’s because of that tantalizing ability that you can expect Smith to get a much longer, and bigger, contract this summer than he did this winter upon his return from China.
According to HOOPSWORLD, Smith plans to test free agency and will be looking for a long-term deal. He’s expected to opt-out of the final year in his contract, and some of the teams who could be attracted are the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and Orlando Magic. All three desperately need a starting two guard.
New York would obviously love to have him back, but as HOOPSWORLD writes, there are some issues. Jeremy Lin is set for a big raise this summer, and because of the attention he brings to the organization, there’s no way the Knicks let him leave. With $54 million already owed next year to New York’s high-priced starting frontcourt, and with Lin expected to nab a salary starting at around $5 million, there’s a good chance New York won’t be able to hold off the pursuit of Smith.
Smith will also draw interest from teams that’ll give him an opportunity to start, and with New York not likely to move him off the pine, this could be his best shot at maximizing his earnings and his talent.
Where should he play next year?
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