While the New York Knicks are getting set to start their offseason to-do list, one of their big name free agents may have a priority of his own to opt-out and test the market. J.R. Smith by far had his best season as a pro last year and is coming up on a player option in the final year of his contract.
Making it a top priority last year to join his friend Carmelo Anthony in New York, Smith set out to prove his doubters wrong that he could be a number two option. He made just over two million dollars as Knick in 2012 and many assume he could make well over that number in 2013.
Last year, Smith averaged a healthy 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and over a steal per game. He shot the ball at a relatively decent rate of 42.2 percent as well. While it’s not an excellent percentage, the Knicks definitely appreciated his scoring at times when Anthony was the focal point of the defense.
There are many teams out there in need of a shooting guard this summer, and Smith fits the profile of what many of those franchises are looking for. I would not be surprised if Smith decided to opt-out and meet with several teams in effort to find not only the best option financially, but possibly the best chance to win.
A couple of teams that Smith might fit nicely with could be either the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves or even the Dallas Mavericks who are in the midst of preparing to add a ton of talent alongside Dirk Nowitzki. There are likely more teams out there who would draw interest from Smith and vice versa.
The Knicks did well this past season, but not well enough to merit Smith coming back for sure. Nothing is set in stone at this point especially because he is still set to make short of three million dollars next year. I am certain there are a few suitors out there who would gladly pay beyond that number to enjoy his services.
Free agency officially begins July 1st, and the thought right now is that Smith will in fact opt-out and at least see what he can get. If all goes according to plan, his salary will likely increase quite a bit – and more than likely could be on another team.