It was speculated as far back as late April that New York Knicks guard and Sixth Man of the Year award winner J.R. Smith would opt out of his contract with the team and test free agency this summers. According to ESPN New York, this very speculated scenario has played out as Smith has opted out of the final year of his deal with New York and will hit free agency starting July 1st.
New York Knicks’ J.R. Smith to decline player option, source says dlvr.it/3Sqdtb
— ESPN New York (@ESPNNewYork) June 4, 2013
Smith isn’t completely closing the door on a return to New York though as ESPN New York states it’s “likely” that Smith will return to the team and re-sign once free agency officially opens at the start of next month.
Another league source said it’s “likely” Smith will re-sign with the Knicks come free agency (starting July 1), putting their roster at eight players under contract for next season.
This is something that may make Carmelo Anthony happy but the Knicks might have to pinch pennies to give Smith the contract he may get elsewhere.
Moke Hamilton broke down the scenarios in which Smith can return to the Knicks and those options include dancing around the Bird Exception and offering Smith a deal that is likely to look like four years and $24.8 million. Being the Sixth Man of the Year, Smith might very well draw offers around $8 million per season which is not what the Knicks can offer him with the Bird Exception.
However is might simply come down to a case where Smith must choose between a bloated contract with a terrible team or come back to the Knicks and get paid a more than decent salary while also contending for a title.
We won’t know for sure what Smith will decide to do until July 1st, but if he’s open to returning to the Knicks that’s something New York will try their hardest to make happen.