Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Do Signs Point to J.R. Smith Returning to Knicks?
The Knicks' offseason plans are almost completely dependent on an arbitrator ruling in favor of previously waived (and then claimed) players retaining their "Bird Rights" as they head into free agency.
Should the ruling benefit the Knicks (by stating both Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak retain said rights), it would become much easier to also re-sign a player like J.R. Smith.
Though early reports suggest the valuable reserve will decline his player option for next season to sign a longer and more lucrative deal elsewhere, ESPN New York asserts Smith may very well opt out only to sign with the Knicks for a better deal.
As it just so happens, if Smith were to opt out, New York could actually sign him to a new contract worth 20% more than his existing player option. This would net him a $3.097 million salary next season.
Money will obviously play a major factor in where Smith ultimately signs, as it did in February when he chose the Knicks over the Clippers after returning from China. Such a factor weights heavily in most athletes' decisions, but for Smith, it may matter more than others. Though the guard is reportedly experiencing financial troubles, his father prefers that he in fact stays in New York. Should the feeling be mutual for the Knicks, a 20% raise could certainly help their case.
Smith had an electrifying effect on the Garden and the team's fans this past season. While he may also display an erratic shooting touch at times, his impact off the bench would continue to be valuable. When comparing the other options available, it's debatable not many others do what Smith can. What's more, it's unlikely the Knicks find another similarly skilled player at the same $3 million plus bargain.
Smith, who has publicly said he wants to return next season, clearly enjoys the benefits of playing in a big market like the Big Apple both on and off the court. He already plays alongside one of his best friends in Carmelo Anthony, who just happens to be godfather to Smith's two daughters. Furthermore, the active tweeter has made it known he'll likely begin building a house in his home state of New Jersey this upcoming summer.
Surely, Smith must realize what a short commute heading to the Garden for work would be from his "new" home.