The New York Knicks have signed free agent big man Jason Smith to a one-year, $3.3 million contract, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. The deal uses New York’s mini-mid-level exception, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe points out, leaving the team without many other moves to make.
Smith, 28, comes at a pretty reasonable price given the market for role-playing big men this offseason. While injuries have prevented him from playing more than 51 games in any of the past three seasons, he’s a solid backup center who can be adequate on both sides of the court.
During the 2013-14 season, Smith started 27 of 31 appearances for the Pelicans and averaged 9.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He was less efficient offensively than in previous seasons, but could rebound in a more appropriate role coming off the bench in New York.
And at 7′ and 240 pounds, Smith is a big body who can fill the paint and help to cover some of the role that Tyson Chandler filled last season. Obviously he doesn’t have the defensive acumen or finishing ability of a healthy Chandler, but he can be pretty useful at a highly affordable price for a cap-strapped franchise.
The Knicks need to make additions like this to become competitive after re-signing Carmelo Anthony earlier this month, so it’s a step in the right direction. When guys like Trevor Booker and Kris Humphries are getting multi-year deals, it’s a nice move by Phil Jackson to keep Smith’s deal to one season.
Smith was originally drafted by the Miami Heat with the 20th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft out of Colorado State. He was immediately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a draft day deal, then spent two years in Philly before being traded to New Orleans.