Late Monday evening, Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York reported that J.R. Smith will decline his player option and will become a free agent.
Smith will officially announce the decision before June 30, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Smith was the 6th man of the year this year, averaging 18.1 points and just over five rebounds a game. In the playoffs he did not play as well, averaging 14.3 points on only 33 percent shooting, but there are reports that he did play through an injury in which he had fluid in his left knee.
To be perfectly honest, this is not shocking news to me nor should you be surprised either.
Smith is looking to get paid after making a sacrifice and taking a very friendly team deal to remain with the Knicks after last season. He took the opportunity given to him by Mike Woodson to thrive off the bench and ran with it.
According to Moke Hamilton, this is what the deal is when it comes to Smith’s Salary Cap ramifications if the Knicks do in fact re-sign him:
Because Smith would be an early Bird free agent if he opts out this summer, under the first calculation, the Knicks can offer him a starting salary of $4.9 million by using the 175 percent rule.
Under the second calculation, they could offer Smith 104.5 percent of whatever is the average player salary for the 2012-13 season, a number we won’t know until July 1, 2013, when the league’s finances for the previous season are fully accounted.
But for all intents and purposes, we can safely assume that the average player salary will end up being around $5.34 million. Under the second calculation, the Knicks could give Smith a starting salary of $5.58 million.
So, that’s it.
The most the Knicks can offer Smith in year one of a new deal would be $5.58 million.
Now I think the Knicks will end up re-signing Smith because not only will teams that may be interested in signing him look at two things. His performance in the playoffs and his history of on and off the court nonsense in the league to date.
I don’t think teams will be giving him a big time contract because of his baggage and it seems like New York is a good fit for him because of his relationship with Melo and Mike Woodson.
The news is not a shock but now the real question is whether or not J.R. does come back to New York.