J.R. Smith has decided that he will opt out of his contract with the New York Knicks. When Smith originally signed his contract with the team, he was given a player option for $2.4 million in the second season. According to Newsday, Smith has decided to become a free agent instead of opting into the deal.
I am not surprised by this revelation at all and I still think that the smartest move for Smith is to come back to New York. By becoming a free agent, Smith now has the opportunity to get a small raise in a new contract, with the Knicks able to pay as much as 20 percent more. That would bump him to around $2.9 million for the 2012-13 season and he could also want another player option for the 2013-14 season.
Smith has already alluded to the fact that he wants to stay in New York, but he hasn't really committed to signing that new deal yet. He told Newsday that "if all things are equal" he is going to stay with the Knicks. I think it sounds like an easy way to turn down the team if another franchise is willing to offer a full mid-level exception at $5 million per season.
I feel that the Knicks really need him to come back, especially because he can provide some instant offense off the bench. He averaged 12.5 points for the team after getting signed midseason and was very valuable in the postseason. It would serve him well to come back for another season and try to improve for his next venture into free agency. If he can help lead the Knicks deep into the postseason he could likely earn a much bigger contract.
Even though I agree that Smith can become inconsistent at times, I don't really know where the Knicks are going to get offense from if they lose him to free agency. Depth is not a strong suit for the team, especially with Iman Shumpert scheduled to miss the first few months of the season recovering from surgery. I hope he decides to come back for at least one more season and that a $2.9 million contract is enough to entice him to play this out in New York.
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*Ryan Christopher DeVault is a fan of the New York Knicks that has followed the team since the days John Starks, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason instilled their defensive will on the rest of the league.
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