Knicks working on a deal to keep J.R. Smith
Bringing back J.R. Smith was one of the Knicks' priorities this offseason and the two sides are working toward a new agreement.
The Knicks were hammering out the details on a multiyear deal for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, multiple reports said. A league source confirmed they were in discussions but nothing was finalized yet.
An agreement could be in place within the next couple of days, although it can't be official until the NBA moratorium ends on July 10. The Knicks aren't allowed to comment on free-agent signings until the moratorium is lifted.
The Knicks also hope to re-sign restricted free agent point guard Pablo Prigioni. A Spanish website reported the Knicks offered him a two-year deal. The Knicks likely would have to use part of their mini-midlevel of $3.18 million to keep Prigioni.
At this point it seems the only thing that would derail Smith returning to the Knicks would be if another team gave a more substantial offer.
The Rockets and Mavericks have expressed interest in Smith. But they're pursuing Dwight Howard, so they likely won't make any big commitments until they know his plans. Smith, 27, has "Early Bird" rights with the Knicks so the most they can pay him is the average salary, starting at about $5.6 million for next season. Smith could get up to four years and about $25 million. Those numbers are estimates as the NBA hasn't set the salary cap yet.
But the deal could have a player option in it, which would allow Smith to opt out and have full "Bird" rights, meaning the Knicks could re-sign him for whatever they wanted at that point.
Smith declined his $2.9 million option for next season last week and became an unrestricted free agent. He was the Knicks's second-leading scorer behind Carmelo Anthony, averaging a career-best 18.1 points and played a major part in the Knicks winning 54 games and capturing their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years.
Smith had a rough postseason, though. He averaged 14.3 points, shot 33.1 percent from the field. But Smith is very popular with coach Mike Woodson and other Knicks officials.
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