LAS VEGAS - J.R. Smith is in a "great" mood after re-signing with the Knicks, according to his younger brother, even though he might have received less money than players he's better than.
Chris Smith, J.R.'s younger brother, is a member of the Knicks' summer-league team, which began practicing Tuesday night on the UNLV campus.
Chris said his brother felt like there was unfinished business with the Knicks, especially after J.R.'s disappointing postseason performance, and wanted to remain with this organization.
The Knicks made that happen last week by offering him a four-year deal worth about $25 million, the maximum they're allowed to give him under the "early Bird" exception. "Bird rights" are salary-cap exceptions that help teams re-sign their own free agents.
Other teams could have offered Smith more than the Knicks could. "I feel like he's better than a lot of guys that got bigger checks than him," Chris Smith said Tuesday. "But he's a humble guy and he'll keep working."
J.R. will be on hand to watch his younger brother play this week, Chris said, which could be a prelude to them potentially being on the same team next season.
Chris Smith, 25, was in training camp with the Knicks last season but was waived after he suffered a knee injury. Chris Smith played two years at Manhattan before transferring to Louisville. He went undrafted in the 2012 NBA draft.
Even though Chris wasn't a member of the Knicks, he stuck around the team, an experience that he said helped him grow even though he wasn't on the court. "I'm way more focused now, and it's different because I watched Jason Kidd, I watched Pablo Prigioni and I watched Raymond Felton," Chris said, "and I was like, now I have the mind-set of what it's like to be a point guard and run the team."
With Kidd retiring to coach the Nets, the Knicks are in need of depth at point guard. Chris Smith said he's looking forward to using the summer league as a showcase, proving that he is capable of running the team.
"My goal is to make training camp, make the team and have the brotherly tandem that everyone has been talking about," Chris Smith said.
He will be joined in the summer league backcourt by Iman Shumpert. Tim Hardaway Jr., the Knicks' first-round pick, also will get significant playing time when games begin Friday.