Knicks Had No Choice But To Re-Sign Smith


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The New York Knicks have three free agents – J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland – that can be offered more money by other teams than they can by the Knicks, a result of their limited time in New York and that the Knicks are over the luxury tax threshold.

At the same time, if any of the three got away, the Knicks had limited means to replace them with equal talent. All they have to offer is the tax-payer’s (mini) mid-level exception and veteran’s minimum contracts. And they would have to eat into the mini mid-level if they were to re-sign Prigioni or Copeland for more than the minimum.

But with the market for shooting guards drying up, Smith agreed to a new four-year deal with the Knicks Thursday morning, according to multiple reports. The contract will pay Smith the maximum allowed under the Early Bird exception, about $24.5 million over the four years. The fourth year is a player option.

Smith was the Knicks’ second-leading scorer last season and was voted Sixth Man of the Year. With his one-on-one scoring ability, he was able to make something out of nothing on countless possessions last season.

But he often stopped the Knicks’ offense and went iso too early in the shot clock. And after he got ejected (and suspended a game) for an elbow to Jason Terry‘s head in Game 4 of the first round, he proceeded to shoot a miserable 34-for-117 (29 percent) over the Knicks’ final eight games.

(By the way, the Smith-Terry dynamic adds another layer to the Knicks-Nets rivalry.)

Smith is the ultimate feast or famine player and the Knicks would be better off if they could replace him with a better defender or a more disciplined and consistent scorer, especially since they’re adding another no-D, tunnel-vision scorer in Andrea Bargnani. Looking up and down the Knicks’ roster, it’s becoming more difficult to find teammates who complement each other’s skill set.

But again, there was no way to replace Smith’s points and minutes with someone of equal value had the Knicks just let him walk. And his contract is reasonable enough that he could eventually be traded.

That may be the Knicks’ ultimate plan. They couldn’t sign a new player for full mid-level ($5 million per year) money, but they could sign Smith and then eventually trade him for a guy (presumably a a better fit) making mid-level money.

That’s exactly what the Brooklyn Nets did with Kris Humphries. When Humphries was a free agent last year, the Nets didn’t necessarily want to bring him back. But they had his Bird rights and couldn’t spend the same amount of money on another team’s free agent. So they signed Humphries to a two-year, $24 million contract, with the idea that they could eventually trade him for another player making similar money.

The plan worked, with the Nets using Humphries’ contract (set to expire after this season) in the deal that will bring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. If they had let Humphries sign elsewhere last summer, that trade couldn’t happen.

Is that the Knicks’ plan with Smith? Time will tell. As an Early Bird signee, he won’t be eligible to be traded until Jan. 15, 2014.


  1. snub says:

    the knicks only hope is to have a healthy stoud if he plays less than 65 games and is not in shape come playoff time its goona be another early exit

  2. BlueandGoldblood says:

    They wasted their one time amnesty provision on Billups who they probably could’ve traded for value knowing the risks they were taking with Amare, and even Tyson Chandler for that matter… Bad decisions seem to follow this franchise no matter who the GM is, and head-case JR Smith getting that much guaranteed money over the next 4 years after the warning signs that led him to China came back out in the playoffs could be trouble, should’ve let a less scrutinized team pay him (I imagine the NYC nightclubs are happy about how much of that money they are about to get though).

    • BlueandGoldblood says:

      So to recap, they are roughly $10 million into the luxury tax with only 7 players under contract which including tax numbers means the Knicks are paying roughly $10.25 million for Smith this year and due to the repeat offender tax payer penalty next year they will pay roughly $21.75 million just to keep JR unless you can convince Melo, Stat, and Bargs all to opt out with their ETOs lol (no chance). Remind you that is before signing Hardaway Jr. and filling out the 4 other players you have to dress.

      • Kay says:

        We are in serious Trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuubbbbbbbbbbbbbblllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  3. Rondo 2 NY! says:

    Trade : Felton / Chandler / Future pick for Rondo
    Sign decent Center.
    Instant contender with rondo facilitating, making melo’s life easier and shooters. not to mention PnR game.

  4. aaaaaaaaaaa says:

    Yes why wouldnt they try to get rid of amare, he is a huge payroll coming off the bench.

  5. Harry says:

    The Knicks already used their Amnesty 2 years ago when they waived Chauncey Billup’s contract to be able to get Tyson Chandler. Trust, if the Knicks could use a Amnesty on Amare’s contract, they would have already.

    • DERKA says:

      finally someone that isn’t spewing things that wont ever happen its good to see someone actually know what their talking about

  6. J says:

    keep him for scoring or get a defender

  7. jakuse says:

    Waive Amare 🙂

  8. Chris says:

    Hes just another cancer like melo im glad he stayed in ny

  9. Lakers4life says:

    The Knicks really have to step up their game. With Rose returning it’s only gonna get harder. Not to mention the Nets now that they have Paul and Garnett.

  10. Bagz says:

    No more tar heels… But gortat will be a deadline trade to a contender maybe Portland for Wesley Matthews if cj McCollum is balling out… if we added a small forward in Wes Johnson I could see an Eric Gordon trade if they sign tyreke Evans who doesn’t want to play the 3 or shoot it either… scola will also be traded hopefully for a draft pick.. Clear cap and hope we can lure another Barkley we got picks and talent play this year out then swing for the fences

  11. lovel1 says:

    Why not take a chance on Greg Oden? His size is undeniable…

  12. Kamote says:

    What a load for Chandler to defend all 5 guys from the opponent’s team.

  13. kalen says:

    this is a good resigning by the knicks, he can be inconsistent at times but he proved to be a great scorer when his heads in the game. i want to see him post up more on the smaller 2 guards this year, i saw him do that last year and he converts more often than not.

  14. Unkle Daddy says:

    He belongs in New York along with all the other selfish players that “play” there. I don’t think any team and by that I mean a real (team) would want him, and he knows that.

  15. samgold35 says:

    He needs to get better with his shot selection.

  16. Bballfan says:

    @ Dean
    Smith realized there are not a lot of teams wanting his services. Once Mayo and Tony Allen signed their deals the market was basically set for mid tier 2guards He knows if his phone was ringing or not and possibly saw the writing on the wall that teams he may have wanted to play for are going other routes

  17. Dean says:

    Wow, if JR is just going to be traded, then why would he sign that contract. There are plenty of teams that would pay him more, not much more but enough to make it worth his while. I don’t think he is a $10 million a year guy but $8 million is about right for four years.

  18. Jalen the Raven says:

    Is it just me but why hasn’t Knicks fixed their biggest problem beating the Pacers, Nets, and Heat. They didn’t get bettter and bigger down low. Why didn’t they go after D.West or P.Milsap. heck try and go after Josh Smith. Nets got better, Pacers will b better when Granger coms bck but Knicks stay da same. Melo is my fav player but u need more.

  19. dave says:

    if you want a laugh, do a google search for – primo pasta andrea bargnani

  20. A wise signing, given the Knicks’ financial dilemma. Smith can ‘light it up’ and wasn’t voted Sixth Man of the Year for nothing!! That said, he may lack significant basketball IQ.

    As for Bargnani, being the # 1 overall pick was a ‘curse’ for him. Expectations were so high and when he didn’t meet them he was vilified. He can shoot, handle the ball, and run the floor, so he may prove to be a shrewd addition.