Though he has a player option for next season, a source tells good friend Moke Hamilton, writing over at Sheridan Hoops, that J.R. Smith is “very likely” to opt-out and become an unrestricted free agent next season. The whole thing is absolutely worth a read, as Moke runs down all the various options of what the Knicks can offer, along with all the hullabaloo regarding Bird rights and partial Bird rights and all that other junk that makes you realize why lockouts take so long. The bottom line:
The most the Knicks can offer Smith in year one of a new deal would be $5.58 million.
As an early Bird free agent, the Knicks could offer Smith up to four years, with annual raises of up to 7.5 percent of his salary in the first year, or, in this case, $418,000.
Add that all up, and the most the Knicks can offer Smith as a free agent this summer is a four-year deal worth $24.8 million, or an average of $6.2 million per year.
I know, no one wants to talk about this right now. Not yet. But it was hard not to take note that with each great game from J.R. down the stretch, he was becoming increasingly expensive for New York. As Hamilton points out, the Knicks have a lot of things going for them if they want to retain Smith, including an annual Summer League invitation for lil’ bro, the playground that is New York City and its ample supply of booties and bike rides, but also what appears to be a genuinely special connection between J.R. and Mike Woodson.
The question may be does “Hey, but I really do like Woody,” win out over, “But they have $12 million more dollars.” I can say with some confidence that there is no one in my life I like quite that much — perhaps my daughter, though I’d have to see the actual offer — but then again, deciding on which multi-million dollar opportunity is preferable is not the type of decision I have much experience making.
Let’s hope we’re running through all this along the Canyon of Heroes, but while we’ll table it for now, expect to spend pretty much the entire summer fretting over just this question.