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Report: J.R. Smith leaning toward Knicks, Clippers

This March 12, 2011 file photo shows Denver

This March 12, 2011 file photo shows Denver Nuggets J.R. Smith (5) talking to a teammate during an NBA game against the Detroit Pistons, in Denver. Credit: AP

According to an ESPN report, the Knicks and Clippers are the favorites to land free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith.

Smith, who is locked into a contract in the CBA, will be free to sign with an NBA team once he receives FIBA clearance. His CBA team failed to make the playoffs, and the league's regular season ended Feb. 15, opening the door for him to return to the United States.

The former Nugget has been tracking which teams he was interested in on Twitter. Initially, his profile listed the Clippers, Lakers, Knicks, Magic, Bulls and Pacers as possible destinations. Today, the teams in his profile are down to the Clippers, Lakers and Knicks.

Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN Los Angeles cites sources in saying that the Knicks and Clippers "appear to be the frontrunners to sign him." The Knicks can offer the mini-midlevel exception -- a $2.5 million one-year deal with a player option for a second season -- while Los Angeles could offer the veteran's minimum.

For the Clippers, Smith would fill the void left by Chauncey Billups, who was lost for the season with a torn Achilles. Chances are Smith would start in the backcourt next to Chris Paul, which could make Los Angeles a more attractive destination than New York.

Smith would be best suited to come off the bench as a sixth man for the Knicks, similar to Jason Terry's role in Dallas. The Knicks lack scoring depth off the bench, and are in desperate need of another guard, two roles Smith could fill.

Below, watch a video of Smith scoring 60 points in a CBA game.


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