In a not uncommon feat for a New York Knicks team, there will be six free agents this year that were on the team last year and even if all left, the team would still be no position to make a big free agency splash. With the exorbitant contracts of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler all on the books for two more years (unless STAT or Anthony decline player options after next year, which they won’t) the Knicks will be hand tied by the CBA over the next two off seasons.
This leaves the free agents coming off the cap that may or may not want to come back as the main source of interest for most Knicks fans. We will look at the four relevant free agents (Sorry Earl Barron and Q-Rich) and decide if the Knicks should resign them or let them walk and also make a prediction on what will happen with them.
After predictably opting out of the last year on his contract last week the Sixth Man of the Year is in great position for a big contract, or so you’d think. After shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three in April during the regular season (he had his normal 42% from the field, 35% from three regular season though his PER was his highest in 5 years at 17.6), Smith was on a hot streak like never before.
He was playing above mediocre defense, driving to the basket, and letting his shots come to him. It was a remarkable turnaround from the guy who would routinely hijack quarters and sometimes games with his curious shot selection if it wasn’t his night. Then the playoffs happened.
After he decided his elbow and Jason Terry’s head should meet up, Smith’s performance in the playoffs fell off a cliff. From Game 5 of the Celtics series on (or eight games) Smith shot 29 percent from the field and 26 percent from three. If you added those percentages up it would still be lower than what LeBron shot from the field during the regular season.
Couple that disaster with a 10.8 PER for the whole playoff run (J.R. has a total of two playoff runs, which lasted a combined 20 games, where his PER was above 15 or that of an average NBA player) and you have a stock falling like it’s 2007. This should benefit the Knicks now though since they can only offer Smith four years and $20 million at the most.
That being said I say only keep him on a two year deal in that $5 million per year range. He has a valuable role on a good team but who knows which J.R, will show up to start next season.
Prediction/Decision: The Knicks give him more years and money than he is worth/Keep him at the right price.