After averaging over 18 points per game last season for the New York Knicks, J.R. Smith is going to get a lot of attention this offseason, with the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons showing some interest in signing the shooting guard, hoping they can give him a bigger offer than what the Knicks are suggesting.
Smith would like to stay in New York, but the Knicks can’t offer him as much money as the other teams. According to the New York Post, the interest shown in him is because the Knicks, holding his Early Bird rights, can offer a deal that’s 75% better than what he made last season, which rounds out to be just under $4.9 million, or they can offer just over the league average salary, which would be $5.4 million on a multi-year contract.
With the free agent market not being as strong as it might be next year, Smith might have extra value for teams looking to add a proven scorer, even if it means coming with a lot of shots and low percentage, shooting 42.2% from the field during the regular season and an awful 33.1% from the field during the playoffs.
Still, there’s a very good chance that all three teams pursuing Smith might be willing to give him more than $6 million a season, especially the Bucks, who seem to have no one on their roster at the moment, with both Ellis and Jennings not likely to be coming back, will give him an even better offer, getting kind of desperate to find a player who can put some points on the board.
Losing Smith will be a huge hit for the Knicks, who sorely need someone who can create points for himself besides Anthony, with their team looking rather limited offensively at the moment, and not having the cap space to do something about it. The team is still thinking NBA finals, but without a guard they can trust can produce some points, even a healthy Amare Stoudemire and a rejuvenated Andrea Bargnani won’t be enough.