Many people were high on the chances of the New York Knicks in the 2013 NBA Playoffs to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and potentially challenge the now back-to-back champions, the Miami Heat. The Knicks, however, fell short in the second round to the Indiana Pacers and now have to see if they can improve this off-season.
On Thursday afternoon, the Knicks made the move that everyone expected them to by coming to an agreement to re-sign the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith. According to the original New York Post report, the deal is said to be for four years, $24.7 million and has a player option in year four of the deal.
Prior to the 2012-2013 season, Smith agreed to a $2.8 million deal with New York for last season with a player option for next season, which he obviously declined to get a contract that would send more money his way.
Smith played in 80 games for the Knicks last season and played 33.5 minutes per game off of the bench. He averaged 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, but shot only 42.2 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three.
Though you could argue that Smith’s value is somewhat overblown because he’s more of a glorified gunner than anything, the main thing that sticks out about his new deal with the Knicks is how top-heavy their roster is going to be for next season.
After re-signing Smith and agreeing to a deal with Pablo Prigioni on Thursday, the Knicks have one of the strangest roster compositions in the league with a lot of money tied up in the top of their roster. The trio of Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler will be paid over $57 million next season. Then, when you add in newly acquired Andrea Bargnani’s $10.75 million, Raymond Felton’s $4.1 million and now Smith’s near $6 million, it’s clear that the Knicks don’t have much more room to operate in free agency.
They still have $1.75 million remaining of a mini mid-level exception, which they will try to lure Chris Copeland back to New York with, but there’s no telling if that will be enough to bring him back.
The biggest issue that the Knicks will have with this top-heavy roster is that they are going to remain relatively stagnant in regards to last season. Not much is changing with this roster, particularly with their key contributors, and that team last year couldn’t get the job done. The Knicks could surprise everyone and make a run in the East next season like they plan to, but that really seems like a reach with what they’ve done thus far in free agency.