J.R. Smith, Chris Copeland targeted by Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Bucks have a “strong” interest in recently unrestricted free agent J.R. Smith, according to Jared Zwerling and Chris Broussard of ESPN. Two league sources confirmed that the Bucks would also like to make an offer to Chris Copeland, who just received a qualifying offer from the Knicks and is now a restricted free agent.

Because the Bucks have fluid cap space, they are in position to outspend the Knicks to acquire Smith and Copeland. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, two slashing scorers in their own backcourt, are also free agents. Jennings, like Copeland, is a restricted free agent. Both Ellis and midseason acquisition J.J. Redick are unrestricted.

Copeland has already caught the eye of the New Orleans Pelicans and will continue to attract suitors. As a rookie he averaged 8.7 points in 15.4 minutes per game. He shot nearly 48 percent from beyond the arc in the playoffs.

Smith was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year last season.

Both players have expressed a desire to stay in New York.

Matthew Falkenbury

For the Knicks to honestly keep Smith and Copeland they are going to have to hope that they give a hometown discount.

The salary cap situation is bad for the Knicks, as you all know, and teams like Milwaukee will be able to beat them for basically any deal they want to offer.

I really don’t see Smith leaving the Knicks, especially for Milwaukee. I would think for him, being a big piece in New York would be much better than being the headliner in Milwaukee (which he wouldn’t even be if Jennings came back).

Money would have to be the only reason he would leave because he is not going to a team that’s better than the Knicks or is a serious contender in the East.

For Copeland, his agent already told SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria that he had turned down better offers last year to play with the Knicks and is loyal to them.

He would most likely have the same role here as he would in Milwaukee because I don’t see him being a starter with guys like Ilyasova, Mbah-A-Moute and Sanders already on the front line.

To me this it all comes down to whether or not Smith and Copeland want the money or not. Their situations wouldn’t be much better if they left for another team and in some cases even worse.

Of course the other side of it is whether or not the Knicks want them back as well. With the cap the way it is, they may have to make sacrifices and let them go.

This summer wont be an easy one for the Knicks as tough decisions will have to be made. I hope they do bring back Cope and Smith but, you never know.