The New York Knicks know their team isn’t good enough for their lofty expectations and aspiration. They also need more cap space for next season, which is why they’re trying to make a move that will send J.R. Smith to the Indiana Pacers, and in return get small forward Chris Copeland, playing on an expiring contract.
The Pacers need a shooting guard badly after Lance Stephenson left, starting the season at 1-2 and ranked in the bottom 10 of the NBA when it comes to scoring. Smith has been his usual inconsistent self, averaging just eight points per game on 40% from the field.
Smith might be more useful for the Pacers, as the Knicks have Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. playing at shooting guard. They aren’t the perfect example of the player they’d like to have, but both are young and cheaper than Smith, who hasn’t done much since signing a relatively big extension following the 2012-2013 season. Chris Copeland has been doing well for the Pacers so far, averaging 16 points a night.
So how does this work money-wise? J.R. Smith makes $5.9 million this season and has a player option worth $6.4 million for the 2015-2016 season, Chris Copeland, who for the Knicks during his rookie season, has only this season left on his deal worth $3.1 million. Smith also has a 15% trade kicker in his contract and it is worth mentioning that the Pacers are only $1.6 million under the luxury tax line, so unless they get rid of more players , offloading unwanted goods through the deal, it won’t happen.
Right now it’s all talk, but things get a bit busier when it comes to trades once December 15 arrives. Why? All the 2014 free agents become trade-eligible, which means that a potentially very busy period begins leading up to late February, although usually it’s more about rumors and suggestions than actually making moves.