29-year-old rookie forward Chris Copeland did a great job of giving the New York Knicks life in Game 5 of the team’s Conference Semifinals series against the Indiana Pacers. He has thus proven himself worthy of a multi-year contract once he hits free agency this summer.
In Game 5, Copeland scored 13 points in 19 minutes of play, making 3 of 4 three-pointers. During the regular season, he posted 8.7 points over 15.4 minutes per game and shot 48 percent from the field, plus 42 percent from long range. He has great size at 6’8, 225 pounds, and can be a scoring threat on the perimeter as well as a good option on the receiving end of the pick-and-roll.
Most important of all, Copeland is going to come cheap next season and the Knicks should have no problems bringing him back. Incumbent sixth man J.R. Smith has been a valuable member of this year’s offense, but his career season, plus being crowned Sixth Man of the Year, is going to make him one who can demand a lucrative long-term deal in July. Given the current state of the Knicks payroll, especially the oft-injured Amar’e Stoudemire‘s uninsured max contract, chances are that Smith is going to be wearing a different uniform in 2013-14.
This opens the door for Copeland to be a fine, pure scorer off the bench for New York next year. Granted, he doesn’t have a lot of NBA experience, but has proven that he knows head coach Mike Woodson‘s system well and can be an offensive force when called upon. Once he learns how to create his own shot, the possibilities are endless.
On top of that, during the regular season, the Knicks went 11-8 whenever Copeland scored in double figures. That isn’t the most glamorous of records, but still shows just how well New York can do with his offense in the rotation.
By making a push to keep him aboard this summer, the team can essentially ensure a return to the postseason next year.